It’s an age-old story, really; one day, you just realize that your life is missing something. Your business, which once seemed so complete, is now ready to expand and welcome something new. Or maybe your days of running around and placing manual orders are growing tired and you’re ready to move on to the next chapter.
Whatever the reason, it suddenly hits you: you’re ready to have an eCommerce site.
That’s all well and good, but in order to have the best eCommerce site that you can, you first need to understand why you’re ready to implement or improve your eCommerce site, a question that can generally be answered with one of the following goals:
- Increase revenue
- Decrease costs
- Improve customer experience
Identifying why you’re implementing an eCommerce site will help you decide what you need from this new implementation. For example, if your main focus is increasing revenue, you will most likely want to enable a platform with heavy marketing capabilities. To decrease operating costs, you will want something with advanced technical capabilities and the ability for more automation and customer self-service. If improved customer experience is the goal, then your site will need a great UX, advanced customer self-service features, and increased engagement with customers.
These considerations hold true regardless of whether it’s your first time welcoming an eCommerce site into the world or you’re looking to make an established site even better. Here’s what you can expect from this first stage in the eCommerce site implementation process.
If You’re Establishing Your eCommerce Presence
Determine Your Goals
If this is your first eCommerce site, the first thing you need to identify is what you’re hoping this new site will accomplish for your organization and how you are going to achieve those results.
While I’m sure you have a beautiful vision of your organization with this new addition, remember that an eCommerce site isn’t a “set it and forget it” tool. It needs guidance and care to be able to meet the goals you have set for it.
Identify Your Audience
Another thing to keep in mind: who is going to be using this site? Who is your audience? The best way to answer those questions and figure out what those people want is to establish personas. Going forward, personas will help make sure that all decisions are made with the end user in mind.
If you’re going from a manual sales process to eCommerce, you have a lot to look forward to. Through a website, you can gather valuable information on your customers as well as reach your potential customers whenever they’re ready and wherever they are. An eCommerce site is active and available 24/7, which means your company is not limited by state lines or typical business hours.
If You’re Replacing Your eCommerce Site
Your first site was perfect when it originally joined your organization. But businesses grow and there’s always room for improvement. Perhaps you’ve realized that your business strategy for the future is limited by your current platform’s abilities, or it’s just not accomplishing what you would like to accomplish.
If your website is dated, behind on upgrades, unable to support a mobile site, or is completely dependent on the developers who created it, it’s time for a change.
Identify What Works and What Doesn’t
To get your project off on the right foot, you need to answer some questions for yourself. What’s working? What’s not working? Identifying what to continue doing and what to rethink is crucial information for the beginning of a project.
If you find that something isn’t working for you, there are some more questions you need to ask. What determines whether that feature is working or not? Is it a platform functionality problem or a business process problem? How would you have that feature ideally operate? While these questions may seem rather in-depth for the decision phase of a project, knowing the answer to these questions from the start will help ensure that you love the eCommerce site that you end up with.
How Will You Measure Success?
Once you have identified what you would like your new site to accomplish and the capabilities required to get there, you need to determine the metrics that will be used to define success.
Define Your Metrics
Metrics (we’re talking numbers) need to be based on the “why” behind your implementation. If your site’s purpose is to increase revenue or decrease costs, then your success metrics will be measured in dollars. If customer experience is the goal, then maybe your metrics are something like fewer calls into a call center, or a shorter wait time to speak with a CSR.
Whatever you decide, be sure to determine success metrics early. This will allow you to make the right choices at the beginning of the project to help propel you to success.
Once you have considered these questions, you are primed for the next step of the eCommerce implementation process: picking a partner and a platform.
To be even more prepared, this blog covers what you need to know before starting an eCommerce project.