Why eCommerce Projects Fail

Posted by Katie Conaway, Gian Genovesi, and Matt Trimmer

November 23, 2015 | 10:30 AM

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why_ecommerce_projects_fail.pngWhen undertaking an eCommerce project, no matter the product or customer, everyone has the same goal: to have a successful site. So why do some projects fail? Through our experience in launching and upgrading eCommerce sites, we have determined a few aspects of an eCommerce project that almost guarantee failure.

No Definition of Success

Simply put, if you haven’t defined success then you can never achieve it. Without knowing how a successful project will be measured, you will only see failure. A clear definition of the “why” behind the project and how you will measure the success of it should be the first step of any eCommerce project.

Tip: when determining objectives for your project, make them quantifiable. “A good website design” is not a quantifiable goal, whereas “a new site that leads to 10% more conversions a month” is a measurable goal.

Not Putting the Customer First

When executing an eCommerce project, it is important to always consider who the audience is and what they want. Make sure that you’re selling to someone who is buying by using personas to understand who your customers are, what they want, and how they want to find it.

Not only does this mean providing what your customers are looking for, but it also means ensuring that your customer has a pleasant experience on your site. Having a thoughtfully designed, well thought out user experience will improve your customers’ interaction with the site and entice them to continue to visit.

No Defined Phases

A surefire way to set your project up for failure is to take on everything at once. Biting off more than you can chew will lead to delays, confusion, and a failed project. Instead, schedule phases and stick to them throughout the process, and be conscious of what can realistically be done in each phase.

Unrealistic Expectations

A lot of things can fall under this umbrella, but the biggest reason that projects fail is because poor planning has led to unrealistic expectations. Before a single line of code has been written, everyone involved in the project needs to know what is possible and what is not.

One particular detail to keep in mind when managing expectations is to fully understand what the budget will allow. With technology today, the sky is the limit when it comes to adding functionality to your site, but being conscious of the budget is necessary for creating realistic expectations of success.

Success is not a moment in the project; it’s an iterative approach to improvement. An eCommerce project is a living thing that needs constant attention, and therefore is always changing. Expecting to see instant success is an unrealistic expectation. Learn as you go and make changes along the way until your site hits the goals that have been established. Then set new goals and grow to achieve them.

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