Have you ever had an awesome pair of casual shoes or dress shoes that you loved wearing? Shoes that were comfortable and also looked great? Shoes that you were excited about placing on your feet, no matter how much walking you would be doing?
I had a pair of awesome shoes just like my description. I say ‘had‘ as past tense, because I recently had to part with my favorite pair of chompers. Here is a few places these kick-ass casual’s took me.
- Internet Retailer Conference – twice!
- Boston and Los Angeles
- Minneapolis, St. Paul and Chicago
- Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Philadelphia
- Little Rock, Arkansas, Duluth, (Minnesota not Georgia) Atlantic City and Atlanta
After about 9 years, my shoes started to wear. (Yes, 9 years) While I loved them and they looked great, they started to fall apart. The bottoms started to develop holes in them and let in rain and moisture. I had them repaired by a shoe shop and even purchased inserts to make them more comfortable. The fact remained: the old pair would have to be replaced.
What the heck does my pair of Stacy Adams shoes have to do with your E-Commerce site and your E-Commerce provider? Everything. If you are a smart E-Commerce marketer, you will keep reading.
All Things Are Not Created Equal
A January 2014 review, shows there are dozens of E-Commerce software solutions. All of them are not equal. Some are low cost and some are expensive. Some are easy to use and some make changing a coma in a sentence appear like an act of congress. Some have sales-boosting features like built-in analytics, on-page SEO services , E-mail marketing tools and some do not have these functions.
According to Forrester Research, more than half of companies providing E-Commerce will look to re-platform in the next 2 years. Why re-platform? Why go through the investment and hassle? See my shoes and keep reading.
Infrastructure Like A Boss
One of the more valuable reasons to re-platform is moving away from the headaches of an older E-Commerce infrastructure. Older E-Commerce infrastructure are requiring many updates and can be more and more difficult to support. Aging E-Commerce software infrastructure can be problematic with older E-Commerce infrastructure limiting options, while not allowing for customization. Certain infrastructure also limits control by your IT and marketing. Limiting your technical team is not good.
Here is a great example. Lets say your company chooses to move to an open-source website platform. Your company chooses this open-source solution as it gives you and your marketing team an easy-to-use content management system (CMS). This easy-to-use CMS allows for simple SKU and content changes. The future seems sunny and awesome. However…moving your older, hard-coded or Java based E-Commerce platform into your new open-source solution could be difficult. File transfers, SKU data, database health and customer data are all things to consider when attempting to update an older E-Commerce infrastructure. These struggles could handcuff you from improving with the technology times and you need to own an efficient and convenient infrastructure like a boss.
Project Management Is Boring But Money Is Not
Project management is not necessarily a reason to re-platform your E-Commerce efforts, but it is a critically important part of the process, which is why I mention it. And yes, it is frightfully boring. When done well, however, it can save you time, stress and money. When you save money, that means you are making money.
When considering an E-Commerce re-platform, you need to have an internal project manager or an outsourced firm complete a requirements document. In project management terms a requirements document is a written project plan that defines all the pieces of your E-Commerce project. It covers the following:
- Purpose of the project from a technical and business perspective
- Stakeholders involved (e.g. CEO, CFO, VP of Marketing, Director of E-Commerce)
- Market assessment
- Requirements like functional requirements (e.g. what a product should do), usability requirements, technical requirements (e.g. security, network, platform, integration, client), ERP requirements, shipping/logistics requirements, customer support requirements, interaction requirements (e.g. how the software should work with other systems)
- Workflow plans, timelines and milestones
- Evaluation plan and metrics
Once the requirements document is completed, you need to scope-creep any additions to be evaluated for their impact to budgets and timelines. For example, an 11th hour-User-Interface enhancement may sound awesome, but it may offer your end-consumer little value, kill site performance and disrupt your E-Commerce budget. Having a strong scope-creep and project management process is boring, but it will save you and make you cash-money in the end.
Increase Sales and Conversion Via Mobile And Email
One of the most important reasons to re-platform your E-Commerce solution needs to be centered around increasing conversions and online sales. Mobile and E-mail functionality are two specific rationale to re-platform, as these two functions directly impact conversions.
Simply put: E-Commerce is about conversions. It should be about making money, increasing transactions and enlarging your web presence. I understand that creating engaging content brings customers, traffic and influences purchases, but the goal should always be focused on the check out process.
When you start the process of an E-Commerce re-platform and begin talking with sales engineers from companies like Miva Merchant, Magento, Shopify and BigCommerce, these vendors should all be talking about increasing this aspect of your small to medium-sized business. Now, let’s move on to mobile and E-mail.
E-mail is not dead, it is surely alive. Here are some E-mail E-Commerce statistics that will blow your mind.
- Email = ROI of around 4,300% (Internet Retailer)
- 80% of E-Commerce consumers say they are influenced by marketing messages received daily. (Internet Retailer)
- 70% of E-Commerce consumers say they are influenced to check-out using promotions and coupons from E-mail.
- 60% of E-Commerce consumers indicate that special offers is reason they subscribe to E-mail from companies.
E-mail functionality inside your E-Commerce SaaS needs to be top of mind. Companies like Scottevest.com have exploded their growth utilizing E-mail marketing to engage and capture sales. E-mail is one of the best drip campaign-based tools to attract traffic and customers. It allows you to stay top-of-mind, communicate promotions and increase customer service branding.
The E-Commerce platform that your small to medium sized company chooses, should have a robust E-mail marketing tool built in or at very least be able to integrate into your existing one. Hubspot and other marketing automation tools like Get Response, Bronto and Pardot all have excellent E-mail tools that should be able to integrate into your E-Commerce platform. If your existing solution does not have a kick-ass E-mail tool, that preferable avoids spam and being black-listed, then it is time to switch.
When you decide to re-platform, follow these steps:
- Consider your infrastructure
- Have a rock-solid project management plan in place or hire a project manager
- Consider critical conversion and sales impacting functions like E-Mail and Mobile
- Automate, automate, automate all your content marketing efforts in order to drive traffic and consumer engagement
Do not forget to leave a comment below and tell us how we can help. What struggles you are having with your E-Commerce efforts? What is one major business gap, with your E-Commerce marketing?
And by the way, here are my new chompers. You can get a pair here. =)