Opinion: Five steps to achieving your e-commerce goals

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Opinion: Five steps to achieving your e-commerce goals

Brian Walker of Forrester Research gives his top tips for ensuring e-commerce success.

Secure cross-departmental support for your e-commerce plan

Given that e-commerce crosses over so many functional lines in an organisation – product, brand, marketing, service, operations, finance, to name a few – there is a lot of room for problems to arise. Strong cross-channel and cross-functional communication is the key to success, along with clear decision-making. Forrester recommends creating a governance board made up of key leaders from IT, marketing, channels, and operations to facilitate this communication and alignment. Integrate the teams – business, creative, and technical – if at all possible.

Clarify what constitutes project success

What are the key performance indicators that matter? Is the reporting and analytics plan going to deliver them? How will the project itself be measured and is everyone given the right incentives to deliver? Will the site be tagged in a consistent and logical way that scales and is repeatable?

Think about the customer

Any e-commerce initiative must be guided by a strong and clear vision for the desired customer experience from the outset. This extends into business rules, policies, and how the site interacts with other customer-facing processes. Be pragmatic and ensure your vision can evolve and develop into the future.

Manage scope and expectations

Manage the project scope carefully by limiting the business requirements and customer experience bells and whistles in phase one. Focus the implementation phase on core basic business and customer experience requirements, and pay close attention to integration and performance issues. Partner with business analysts and project managers to manage this scope and to understand the impact of requirements. Insist on reality, expect a can-do attitude.

Avoid the “big bang” and take a long-term view

Take a programme rather than project approach to developing the site and business tools. Don’t try to fulfil every wish that the business comes up with. Focus on a continuous programme, funded and staffed to meet the ongoing needs of the business and to incrementally add capabilities and features over time. Pitch your project in this light to gain long-term support for your technology initiatives.

By Brian Walker, senior analyst, e-commerce technology, Forrester Research

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