What you wish you knew before starting a digital commerce project
Hindsight is a wonderful thing that would be most useful at the start of a digital commerce project, not after it is complete. From escalating costs to poor platform choices or a lack of preparedness for post-implementation need, there are many ways in which it’s easy to go off track. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. These are some of the most essential insights that anyone developing a digital commerce project needs to know before getting started.
Vision should come before, not after, the event
Your vision for the project provides direction and a benchmark to measure delivery against. This includes working out what your customers want – ask them if you’re not sure – as well as identifying the capability you need to significantly increase traffic, set the business ahead of the competition and create greater visibility and profile.
Architecture should align with vision
The behind the scenes work of defining the architecture is much more essential than many give it credit for. Start by identifying data and developing interfaces before focusing on what customers see.
Choosing the right platform is not about features
It’s easy to get caught up in assessing features and functions of an eCommerce platform but these aren’t the best ways to analyse your choices. Instead look at:
- Ease of integration with other systems and internet based services
- Performance that aligns with need – if orders are modest you don’t need to pay for a high performance platform
- How simple is it to scale up to respond to need?
- Flexibility in terms of building outbound and inbound services
- Cost and payment structure – do you want to avoid a high up front fee?
- Vision alignment – look for a platform that provides the infrastructure you need but doesn’t hold you back creatively
It’s crucial to calculate the true cost of the project
Commonly we focus on the cost of the platform and also implementation as the two biggest financial figures to consider. In fact, these two elements together usually only account for around 25% of total costs. The other 75% comes from:
- Hosting costs
- Consulting on vision and steps to achieve it
- Maintenance costs (monthly fees, security upgrades, fixes and new features)
- Quality assurance
- Personnel costs (day-to-day management, customer service, IT costs, analytics)
The launch is not the end
All too often, getting the project off the ground is the main focus for everyone involved and too little attention is paid to the day-to-day operating and maintenance that will be required after that point. Security is probably the most pressing issue in this context – a data breach could be devastating for the business, financially, reputationally and in compliance terms too.
It will also be essential to have support in place, both reactive (i.e. responding to issues) and proactive (i.e. mitigating problems before they arise). While building the digital commerce project is an important process, don’t forget the necessity of providing for what comes after that too.
Working with an implementation partner can make life easier
Choosing an effective implementation partner means finding a team with the right experience that you know you can trust to deliver. 9 out of 10 eCommerce decision-makers rate the ‘ability to challenge their thinking’ as a major factor in partner selection and building a relationship based on collaboration and transparency will be essential.