Ecommerce plays a key role in the success of today’s businesses. When implemented properly, an ecommerce solution can help your business increase sales, enhance your brand, reach a larger pool of potential customers, and build stronger relationships with current clients.
But launching a new webstore or re-platforming the one you currently have can be tricky. By understanding the potential risks and challenges – and incorporating best practices along the way – you can speed your time to completion and reduce the chance of costly errors creeping into your project.
Limiting potential problems
Like most things in life, careful planning and execution is key to successfully completing an ecommerce implementation. As you start to strategize and plan for your new or re-platformed webstore, several requirements should be top of mind:
- Brand your site – Ensure that every aspect of your ecommerce website – from graphics to navigation – align with your brand and create a consistent shopping experience that customers expect from an in-store visit.
- Know your audience – Define your audience and understand its buying behavior. For example, some buyers may want personalized buying guides based on past purchases. Then ensure that your site reflects how your audience prefers to interact with ecommerce sites.
- Know your competition – Conduct a competitive analysis to better understand the current online marketplace and your place in it. Also be sure to check out competitors’ Facebook pages and Twitter feeds to see what is being said about them.
- Decide the level of customization – Understand the type of solutions that partners can offer you – from out-of-the-box packages to highly customized options. Remember, the more customized your solution, the higher the cost and the longer the development time.
- Build a great user experience – Use best practices to create a friendly and intuitive online experience for customers. This includes planning how to integrate back-office applications with your web store in order to streamline order management, simplify payment processing, expedite shipping and enhance personalized service.
- Factor in basic operations – Align your current operations with your site. If you are re-platforming, you will have already staffed up or outsourced certain tasks. But if this is your first ecommerce solution, ensure you have sufficient support.
- Find the right partner – Choose a partner that understands more than just ecommerce technologies and can offer expertise in areas such as back-office systems and database development. Once you have narrowed down your candidates, get a clear understanding of what you can expect from them in terms of solution delivery, price, structure and timeframes.
- Set clear expectations – Have a clear idea of when you expect to see a return on investment (ROI). And keep in mind that ecommerce platforms have a relatively low cost but high ROI in the spectrum of enterprise IT projects.
Preparing for hidden challenges
Careful planning and execution is key to successfully completing an ecommerce implementation.