E-Commerce Platform Selection – Painting by Numbers - Page 4
What Is Your Operational Capacity?
Similar to the understanding of executive roles, operational capacity focuses on accountability as it relates to execution. Discuss, understand, and commit to paper your organization’s most common internal use (read: not customer-facing) cases before you begin a quest to acquire technology to fully understand what your team is capable of producing tactically. For example, ensure that members of your team have the resources and capability to handle tier 1 and tier 2 support for internal and external users of your website, and that you have the ability to generate production artwork for landing pages and promotional emails. After establishing common use cases, examine how the features within the desired e-commerce platform may provide you with additional operational efficiency. Regardless of whether you are considering a SAAS model platform or plan to license a managed platform, ask the sales representative if all of your expected use cases are covered with functionality from your desired e-commerce tech stack. The platform in question may have operational roles/needs you’ll want to fill.
How Custom Is Your Business Logic?
This question goes hand in hand with the build vs. buy debate. Not all e-commerce platforms are created equal in terms of what non-standard business logic they might handle out of the box. Use of case development prior to a platform search is extraordinarily important for determining whether a platform can support your needs. Determine in advance if your e-commerce model is fairly standard or will require additional business logic developed during implementation. Know in advance the capabilities of your target e-commerce platform and how it might be affected by the logic your business model presents. Custom logic such as user segmentation, multiple regions, multiple product catalogs, purchase order submission, stored value cards, and product options can all change the scope of implementation greatly. A small deficiency in a platform could be an extraordinarily expensive logic hole to fix. A competent salesperson should be able to answer your questions regarding the majority of your custom business logic.
How Trained Is Your Customer?
If replacing an existing e-commerce platform, understand how married your existing customer base is to the functionality on the current platform and how a new experience is likely to affect them. Use focus groups or internal polling of customer-facing staff to determine if a customer’s experience might be improved. Seek data from your desired platform about conversion rates for other organizations in a vertical similar to yours with similar sales volumes. Understanding that other organizations are successful on the target platform isn’t an indicator of your success, only that you can be successful on that platform.
What Is the budget to Establish Your Platform?
This is, of course, the figurative (and perhaps literal) million-dollar question. After going through appropriate processes to develop overall platform strategy, tactical responsibilities, and requirement/use case development, determine if the allotted platform budget allows for success. If yes, it’s time to shop for a platform. If no, then reexamine your overall strategy. Budget and strategy must be aligned prior to taking on any technology.
What Platform Conclusions Can Be Drawn from Understanding Your Organization?
Knowing your organization’s strengths and weaknesses is key to platform selection. Provided strategy is aligned with budget and clear ownership of the platform is accounted for, we can make some generalizations.