It was 9 AM on April 10, 2020. The product management head of a US $15 million clothing brand based in Atlanta, GA was pacing back and forth in his home office.
Sales through traditional retail channels had plummeted. Yet, his e-commerce channels – which were not his prime focus till now – were beginning to pay off. After all, his clothing brand specialized in using unique, comfortable fabric, a segment that was slated to grow with more people working from home!
The pandemic has now forced him to change his business model 180-degrees. The venture’s primary sales channel would now be e-commerce, not the other way around. He needed to execute on his Plan-B with a lot more focus.
While the company did have some online presence, the key was to embark on a full-fledged ecommerce-led transformation.
The company needed to deliver a world-class shopping experience online. It was a mid-size, fast-growing brand and a simple digital storefront wasn’t enough. It needed a flexible, customizable and scalable platform, and the product leader needed help and strategic guidance.
The clothing retailer needed enterprise-class ecommerce, complete with end-to-end solutions for data migration, secure API integration, firewalls, robust and secure billing system, SSL certification integration, and performance optimization.
In this post, we focus on highlighting key aspects that decision-makers need to look out for, as they gear up to upgrade their e-commerce presence. Of course, if you’d like the team at Indium Software to act as your partners and do the heavy lifting for you, we’re right here to help. But first, the details:
Step #1: Document your e-commerce strategy with this 10-Point Checklist
While as a product leader or founder, you may have an intuitive understanding of what you need, it helps to document the entire gameplan for e-commerce. It is crucial that you have answers to the following 10 questions:
- Who is your target audience? Are you building a B2B or B2C business, or is it a combination of both?
- Is it a marketplace? Is it a single-brand or a multi-brand play? Are you planning a combination of inventory and marketplace models? Or, is it going to be only one?
- What about your business model? Are you offering subscription plans? How do you plan to use discounts?
- What does your product mix look like? Is it highly customizable products or simple products that can be picked off the shelf or somewhere in between?
- Finally, if you have a preferred e-commerce platform like Shopify or Magento or Spree Commerce in mind? Have you evaluated simpler options like Wix and WooCommerce? What about OpenCart?
- Finally, if you’re looking for highly scalable e-commerce, you will need enterprise-grade products like Hybris, Websphere, Elastic Path
- What is your UX strategy? What is your brand strategy?
- Are you looking to have mobile apps, in addition to web-based e-commerce. In some cases, we have also noticed retailers going mobile-only or mobile-first. What’s your strategy?
- Alright, you have now planned out everything – what about a continuous process for regular performance and security testing? What about automation of emails and promotions?
- Finally, can you take advantage of predictive analytics or AI to gather insights on your customers to further improve your business?
Step #2: Plan out the finer nuances business side
- You need a single unified platform to manage your entire process. This includes the front-end (where customers can browse, search and find relevant products or services), back-end inventory management, secure billing, customer data management, customer services, catalog management and order tracking all the way to delivery, to name a few key processes.
- This platform has to be flexible and scalable; It needs to have the ability to tackle varying levels of traffic, customized workflows as per each product or category, and must be easy to integrate with other ERP or CRM systems.
- The platform must be highly secure, complete with safe data migration, secure API integration, firewalls, robust and secure billing system and SSL certification integration.
- The platform must enable simplified processes to help comply with all regulatory obligations.
- Last but not least, the platform must enable easy integration with multiple digital sales channels including mobile, social media, marketplaces and emerging social selling networks.
Step #3: Plan out the finer nuances on the technology front:
On the technology front, the following features will come in very handy, especially for high-growth online retailers:
- Enhanced scalable database
- Easy migration features, to move from one e-commerce platform to another if needed
- Automatic API upgrades
- High-quality, intuitive UX & UI
- Rapid payment processing, including lag-free checkouts
- Robust, continuous performance and security testing
- Modular architecture, to make it easy to customize if needed
Step #4: Continuous improvement on performance, security, data analytics and AI-based automation and insights
Finally, once you have your enterprise-grade e-commerce platform online – both on mobile and web, these are some aspects to take care of on an ongoing basis.
These help with continuous improvement of operations and act as key growth drivers for your e-commerce business. These include:
- Performance testing and optimization to manage traffic growth
- Digital advertising and promotions using world-class SEO, search engine marketing, social media and now emerging social-selling platforms
- Security testing and upgrades, to make sure all key customer data and other information stays safe
- Data analytics to drive predictive analytics, insights and building a culture of data to drive inventory and marketplace related decisions. It will also help you plan out your product mix, brand preferences, etc.
- Using AI and NLP-based solutions to automate key processes, chatbots to engage with customers, etc.
How can Indium Software help?
At Indium Software, we’ve served retail and e-commerce customers for several years now. We’ve often stayed ahead of the curve, helping our customers navigate through the fast-changing world of e-commerce.
Specifically, we’ve three key areas of expertise and experience, that we’d like to highlight here:
- We’ve built and maintained several high-traffic e-commerce websites. We’ve done performance and security audits, built technology capabilities to cater to spikes in traffic during holiday season sales, we’ve migrated data from one platform to another and we have taken on high-level customer data management projects.
- We’ve built solution accelerators using three marquee ecommerce platforms – Shopify, Magento, Spree Commerce(Open source). Depending on your specific business needs, we could take your e-commerce offering live in as soon as 3-weeks, depending on your scope.
- Over the years, we’ve served customers of all sizes – from startups to Fortune 500 firms. We’re small enough to care and big enough to deliver. We go the extra mile to deliver not only technology capabilities but also business value.
- We’re here to build, deploy, test, improve your e-commerce platform on both mobile and web, all the way till your end-users fall in love with your online experience.
- We understand the subtle differences between ecommerce for a variety of products. It is not a one size fits all approach, though a lot of the processes are common. You may want to set up a B2B platform, which may need additional levels of encryption and security. Where you’re selling auto parts online or want to launch a digital storefront for selling food products or household goods, we’re here to act as a key technology partner and deliver across the board. Size and stage of your e-commerce business does not matter. We’re happy to engage and deliver a solution that is apt for your current and long-term business needs.
Give us a shout, if you’d like to talk to our e-commerce experts. Visit www.indiumsoftware.com for more details.