5 things to consider before investing in eCommerce software solutions

John O'rourke

John O'rourke

5 Minute read December 2020

1. Consider culture:

Culture, or put more simply ‘how we do things around here’ is the very foundation of your business and what produces its unique identity. However, culture ultimately makes or breaks the success of any business. 

In-house, culture needs to be ready to embrace external support. For example, it is natural for IT managers to feel protective and fall foul of a ‘not invented here mentality’ also known as the ‘toothbrush theory’ because we treat solutions like a toothbrush: everybody wants one, everybody needs one, but nobody wants to use someone else’s.”

Your business must be receptive to outside support, understanding where your agency or developer can provide you the most value, and what’s best kept internal is key to avoid a culture clash that will quickly kill any project no matter how strong it looks on paper.

2. Embrace data quality:

Data is arguably the key to creating an effective eCommerce store. Companies starting with their first e-commerce website often underestimate content. From product and company descriptions and images, to web store look-and-feel, structure, and categories, a lot of content is needed before you can launch your eCommerce website. When considering yours, ask yourself, would you be happy to show this to your customer on a supermarket shelf? Consider product description, currency, and something that’s often overlooked; units. Some products may be sold by pallets, some by rolls, some by boxes, quantities, and quantity types are key to creating consistency both internally and externally. 

Getting your product data correct requires some compromise between departments.

  • Data validation
  • photography
  • consistent lighting, proportions, and backgrounds,
  • descriptions that genuinely answer consumer questions

To name but a few! Take a look at our blog on preparing your product data https://getjohn.co.uk/how-do-i-prepare-my-product-data/ 

 

3. Plan for life after your project:

Software development takes input from several sources over an extensive period, there are many cogs set in place and each one must run like clockwork to see the value and capture a return on investment. 

Imagine you’re building a race car…you don’t know it will work properly until you take it onto a track. It’s not until we try it in full flow and in a real-world setting that we discover what has the potential to go wrong, that somethings can be critical to the business and stop an entire organisation from trading overnight. 

A well-defined supported contract acts as the test drivers and the mechanic team all in one. With millions of lines of fresh code, being proactive allows for better control of risk and spend when a bug inevitably finds its way into the system. Often failure comes in the form of complacency after the project is completed. After all, your business has just spent all this money on a shiny new system, so why should it continue to spend after the project is complete? Well, simply put, people need to be there to maintain that structure; just as someone would curate a shop.Your system needs to feel organic and sustainable to remain effective. 

4. Decide what stays in-house and what needs outsourcing:

Keeping control v effective delegation and freeing up time for day to day requirements. Often the most difficult challenge is determining what your business should keep close control and where it may be best to offload to your specialist. 

Your business must weigh up strategic importance v contribution to operational performance. Something with high operational and strategic importance is well worth keeping in-house, whilst something that might not contribute as much to your day to day often works best when left with your developer specialist.

The end goal must always be to free up other limited resources like time and energy, so you and your team can focus on the core aspects of your business.

5. Specify your minimum e-commerce requirements 

It may sound simple, but consider what brings real value to your e-commerce web store. Begin by establishing your must-haves. That is, think about the minimum viable features and functions needed to satisfy you and your customer’s needs. 

Once the baseline features have been established, if budget allows, begin to incorporate additional features that improve elements such as quality of work and decrease damaging bottlenecks and error-producing processes. Remember to consider resources and capabilities. 

When defining your minimum viable commerce, consider the following:

  • Think opportunity cost, ensure your features align with your e-commerce goals and customer needs. If not, is it taking away from something else that would be a better fit?
  • Only incorporate features and functions that you plan to use within the first year of your e-commerce website launch. Being proactive and having a plan is an important step for any business looking to remain sustainably competitive, but keeping to a budget is key if your project is going to make it to deployment. 
  • Be sensible about how much you can accomplish with your internal resources and capabilities. For example, if you want complex automation, check first that you have the technical ability in-house to manage this (or the means to delegate this externally) to keep the new process from collapsing. 

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