Too often, we see companies treat eCommerce as a reactive process. As their business grows, they purchase enterprise tools that build out their capabilities, trusting that the built-in commerce engine will be enough to create a competitive eCommerce experience. While possible, this is more of a best-case scenario; more often, companies find that these commerce engines limit long-term growth. And when this happens, it’s understandable that the company would feel trapped by its own eCommerce ecosystem.
But solutions are out there, and companies that want long-term growth need to start planning early. This applies to both how you apply changes to your eCommerce platform as well as your eCommerce strategy itself.
Understand Your Customers Today
Planning for future growth means understanding where you’re at today. And the best place to start is by looking at your existing customer base.
How are your current operations looking? Are your marketing efforts driving site traffic that engages, interacts, and purchases? Do customers respond well to the way your eCommerce store and product pages are set up?
This all comes back to a review of your target market and current customers as well as the profitability levers that contribute the most revenue and how your eCommerce engine can support those functions. If you’re working with a limited commerce engine, we’re willing to bet that you’ve already identified a few opportunities that you’re missing out on. Use this data to inform the next steps in your planning process.
During the process of building a complete picture of your current situation, you may also find that you need to sell the rest of your team on moving to a new eCommerce platform that can offer better support. Including key stakeholders early in the process and reviewing your findings will help get everyone on the same page internally.
- Manageable growth relies on having an understanding of your current market.
- Review your existing customer data and how well their purchasing behaviors align with your eCommerce platform functions.
- Determine where your commerce engine is coming up short and start thinking about what kinds of changes could help you implement these functions. Interview internal stakeholders to get a full picture of what’s missing.
Choosing a Platform That Supports Growth
In your customer assessment, you should have identified a few eCommerce areas where you’re coming up short. Here, you’ll be reviewing integration options that build out these capabilities.
Clearly, it’s not feasible to ditch your entire enterprise ecosystem for want of a commerce engine. So, your goal should be to find a platform based on open APIs that can be retrofitted into your current ecosystem without too much disruption.
This requirement should help narrow your options a little, but it’s not your only consideration.
Of course, you’ll need to keep costs in mind, but remember that integrating new features will expand your capabilities—and thus, improve the ROI of your marketing efforts. Don’t shy away from the features you need just because of the up-front costs.
You’ll also want to consider how the platform can support your growth in other ways. Most solutions come equipped with SEO tools, but this is only the beginning. For example, reports estimate that mobile eCommerce will make up 72.9% of all eCommerce sales by 2021. From this data point alone, it’s clear that companies who ignore the mobile experience won’t last long. Keep these details in mind as you plan out your integration and make sure all the bases are covered, both present and future.
- Review the needs you identified in your customer assessment and come up with a wish list of eCommerce platform features.
- Platforms based on open APIs and flexible execution are the best choice for a retrofit.
- Make sure your chosen platform meets your needs across all marketing goals—mobile optimization, SEO, reporting, and more.
Reviewing Analytics to Make Business Decisions
So, you have a strategy and you have a platform. How do you leverage your eCommerce data to move your company forward?
Your goal at this point is to tap into your eCommerce data and analytics to create strategies, make design decisions and find opportunities for growth. (You’ll be doing this throughout the process, in truth, but the capabilities of your new integration will give you some new insights to work with.)
Focus on improving the analytics most suited to driving business growth and measuring long-term retention and engagement. You’ll find that there are plenty of options to choose from, but don’t spread yourself too thin. Identifying a few important key metrics, such as conversion rates, email opt-in rate, and customer acquisition cost, and tracking their progress over time will allow you to scale your eCommerce efforts and deliver enhanced services to your customers.
- eCommerce analytics are the benchmarking tools you need to track growth.
- Identify and measure the analytics most important to your company’s growth, revenue, and customer management.
Planning for Tomorrow, Today
Planning for eCommerce growth involves deep assessments of your existing processes, your company goals, and the commerce platform that will take you there. It’s a long-term goal that you’ll need to take step-by-step. But with the right strategy—and eCommerce platform—in your corner, you’ll be able to take these steps one at a time and work towards an eCommerce experience that’s always improving.
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