By Chris Vincent, Practicology
I’ll be talking at Fashion Exposed in August on `How to startup and grow a successful ecommerce business’.
In this series of articles I will be putting a bit of background together on the pre-work required in order to get your business online. The first installment was all about choosing the right platform partner to help your online dreams become reality. This week we talk about what to watch out for when you start your ecommerce project and how to get a platform to sell products up and running.
So let’s talk a little about where things can go wrong. I’ll call this the four no-no’s of implementing an online platform.
The first and most important part of any project and often where it goes the most wrong is on the planning phase. Many businesses focus on the end result rather than the detail that is going to get them there and this can cause a lot of heartache.
At the start of any project you should scope out what resources, money and machines will be required to get you to the end goal. Also critical is that you need to be very realistic about how long it will take you to go online. The best way to figure this out is to get some feedback from the company that you are partnering with and get some strong directional feedback from them. Finally you should also be thinking about potential risks and issues you may face along the way. I can’t under emphasis the importance of this activity.
The second area that I’ve seen a lot of challenges with is the testing phase. The companies delivering the platform should have some very robust testing plans in place to ensure that the different use cases – all the different user journeys have been allowed for. Note that this isn’t always the case and should be discussed in the planning phase. However they will not have any testing cases for your internal workings outside of the platform. Think about, sale, return, exchange, general inquiries etc. How should your channel fit together and work when it’s live?
The third area which can often be linked to resource is the website content. A lot of businesses will underestimate the amount of work that goes into a proper launch. Who is going to write and approve all the copy, who is going to shoot and clip the photos, who is going to ensure that the products are in the right category and at the right price with the right colours. Depending on how many product lines and colour size variations you carry this can be a very big task.
The last area that can often cause some real challenges in a platform implementation is the integration to other systems within your business. Every business that trades a bit of volume will require this. If you don’t on launch, then it will make your life a lot simpler. If you do require it make sure that you really understand what you are trying to deliver both now and in the future. I’ve seen a lot of money wasted on an integration from an ecommerce platform to something else that had to be redone after 6 months because the scope had changed. The best scenario here is to engage a middleware solution but what you can afford here will be entirely dependent on your budget.
I have been delivering platforms for many years and I can with confidence say that if you manage to incorporate the information in this article and apply it to your project you will have a good chance of achieving a successful ecommerce platform launch.
In my last installment I will talk all about what happens when you go live with your new ecommerce channel and some common mistakes and challenges for life post implementation. Stay tuned!
Many businesses want a successful online channel and dream about having their largest store online. What does it take to make it online?
Using real life examples and experience Chris will talk about the areas businesses need to focus on and what sort of investment in people, process and technology are required to start and grow your business.