When it comes to ecommerce, the replatforming journey can be daunting and overwhelming. A recent white paper by Capgemini, a global technology consultancy that specializes in digital customer experience (CX), reviews eight important questions that retailers need to address before replatforming their commerce solution.
The white paper, Eight Questions to Ask Before Migrating to a New Commerce Platform covers important replatforming considerations which include assessing your customers’ current CX expectations to determining the current state of your product catalog to evaluating which platform is the right fit for your business.
In this post, we’ll provide an overview of each question from the white paper.
Content produced in collaboration with Capgemini.
According to Forrester, 70% of global business and technology decision makers listed improving CX as a high priority over the next twelve months. Replatforming your commerce infrastructure is an important step retailers can take to improve the consumer shopping experience, but it’s also time consuming and expensive. That’s why thinking through each step of your replatforming journey is critical. The initial steps should focus on determining where your company stands right now in terms of customer expectations and your current CX capabilities.
This question is one of a series of questions you should be asking yourself about the nature of your existing CX infrastructure and what your customers expect from their shopping experience. As you explore the answer to this, you should gain an understanding of what your competitors are doing and how your website compares to theirs.
Additional questions to ask yourself during this phase of the CX audit include: What aspects of your website do customers interact with the most, what functionalities do your competitors offer on their websites, and what back-end systems will you need to integrate with for ERP or order management?
Cleaning up and presenting your catalog data is a big reason to embark on a replatforming initiative because the quality and completeness of your product data has a direct impact on sales and returns. A 2016 study found that 40% of consumers returned a product specifically due to poor product content. Asking the question, “How clean is my catalog data?” is particularly important when replatforming.
Writes Wolfe, “A clean, consistently-organized catalog will help you avoid costly delays. If you want to implement a product information management system (PIM) or reorganize your store categories and navigation, make sure you tackle the planning and requirements for these projects before turning to a new commerce solution.”
How clean is your catalog data? Source: Capgemini
Moving to a new commerce platform will affect your entire digital commerce ecosystem. This includes customer service, ordering, and logistics teams. When considering a new platform, it’s important to assess how replatforming will impact your entire commerce ecosystem so that you can evaluate tools that have capabilities to address all involved teams.
“To address increasingly important customer experience needs, some platforms now come out-of-the-box (OOTB) with modest service, content, and OMS capabilities,” explains Wolfe.
Once you’ve selected your platform and signed the contract, onboarding begins immediately. The next three questions address the realities of the contract-to-development process.
Your developers will likely need access to the certain systems and resources in order to build the new commerce experience. Asking this question is important because it considers what systems and resources your developers currently have access to, which third-party features must be purchased to integrate the new tech with existing technology, and what resources you may need to secure to complete the migration.
Writes Wolfe, “If assistance is needed to deﬁne the required third-party ecosystem that will be required, a solution consulting engagement can be a good investment as a precursor to a replatforming project.”
Integrating a complex new commerce system into your existing ecosystem takes time. Establishing a realistic timeline which starts with the discovery process, through contract negotiations and continues until you’re up and running with the new system can help you avoid bottlenecks and mitigate frustration.
While this timeline is different for everyone, Wolfe advises companies to “take your best estimate and add three or four months.” This ensures your team has time to learn the new system and allows for unexpected issues as well as seasonality (e.g., the last thing you want to do is impact sales during the busy holiday season).
The first five questions are designed to help you answer the sixth question—which platform is right for you. Since most companies have B2B buying teams of 6-10 decision makers, each of whom collect an average of 4-5 pieces of information, the final decision can take a long time (6-12 months, on average).
“Plan to spend a lot of time evaluating the ﬁt between your goals and the diﬀerent platforms. A good match is a platform that meshes with your internal strategy to accomplish your digital goals,” writes Wolfe. “It’s not just the one that has the fanciest functionality or saves you the most money in the short term.”
Getting started with a new platform often includes designing and launching your website, but the next two questions are important ones to consider prior to initiating a redesign.
The question of when to redesign your new website can help you lay out all the elements you’ve already evaluated, but especially the platform you’ve selected, to determine the appropriate timing. A website design should consider the platform first, because a design-first approach can significantly impact budgets and timelines.
Wolfe writes, “By allocating enough time to evaluate not only your needs but your customer’s, then deﬁning your goals, organizing your catalog data, setting up your third-party relationships, and drafting a reasonable timeline, you can replatform in a way that minimizes delays and unplanned expenses.”
It’s nearly impossible to answer the above question without doing the work and research inherent in the first seven questions. The reality is that you may ultimately decide that now is not the right time to embark on a replatforming project. Your workforce must be agile and prepared and your organization needs to be aligned with the many changes that a new platform brings to all teams impacted (and this is likely all teams in your organization).
Writes Wolfe, “Proper change management is key to a successful replatforming project. This will ensure your teams are getting the most out of your new platform investment.”
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