A Stepwise approach to building an eCommerce platform
Setting up and management of an eCommerce platform can be a full time occupation which hinders you from running your business. However, even the attempt to actually outsource and manage this platform can equally be cost prohibitive. The best approach then would be to take a project-centric approach which should start with a business case.
1. Start with the end in mind
If you are the sole business owner, without a team, you will incur man-hours, which cannot be billed to the customer and, can also impact the quality time spent running your business. It would be essential to understand the basis on which you work out a budget. What outcomes do you want?
2. Take bite-sized chunks
The techie phrase here would be “lean startup” methodology. This refers to setting out the “minimum viable product” (MVP) which could easily be drawn out on a paper napkin, so you are constrained from going over scope! Use a feedback loop and, from your business case, measure your outcomes against projections.
3. Can you afford to Pivot?
This is an approach used by start-ups, which may not be favourable if you are running a going concern. This advocates that you change direction or make reiterations to arrive at your end goal. This can result in missing time deadlines, cost overruns and an inferior product. This can be avoided by having in place a robust “Customer Development” process.
4. Step forward
A lot of emphasis is put on finding the “right” web developer and what is often missed is the step process that takes the user requirements to identify the right eCommerce platform. “Coding’s easy, deciding what to build isn’t”
A] Use University software graduates through moderated online portal. This helps businesses to source digital talent more affordably. Useful for first iterations and producing a basic MVP.
B] Use an Independent Developer. Core requirement is building up a good relationship (dating) to ensure the assignment is professionally fulfilling. Essential to have a deadline and disclose your budget upfront.
C] Use a Recruitment Agency. It’s very important to have a good job specification, follow the recruitment process and communicate diligently. Equally good to have negotiation skills.
D] Use a Digital creative agency. Best applicable where the need for branding and strategy with product design, is imperative. Preferable where you are at high-end of the market or with specific niche.
6. Stand and Deliver
As a small business owner, an eCommerce platform can be a cost-effective and efficient channel to deliver your products. It’s important that this integrates with your branding and social media channels.