The discovery phase of an ecommerce site launch or redesign is a critical step to ensuring that you get exactly what you want and to communicate your vision to your ecommerce platform partner. The key to a successful discovery meeting is in your advance preparation.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of considerations to address before your discovery meeting:
- Get the scoop. Talk to your customer service department and sales team. Ask about the judgment calls and exceptions they make and the undocumented tribal knowledge they pass from rep to rep during the training process. These exceptions tend to be workflow trouble-spots that even a robust website may need customizations to accommodate.
- Establish ownership. Determine who will be working with the platform regularly and the skill sets that they will need to be successful. What roles, if any, will they play during the build and implementation?
- Make key decisions. Gain consensus within your organization on the goals, functionalities, and look/feel of your site. Hash it out before the meeting.
- Use a phased approach. Approach your ultimate ecommerce vision with a phased approach in mind. Understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day and your site will grow in increments as well. It’s helpful to think of your phases as:
- “Need to Have” or Phase 1
- “Nice to Have” or Phase 2
- “Someday” or Phase 3
- Set realistic expectations. Be realistic in your expectations of what can be successfully completed in your specified time frame. Ask your ecommerce partner to help you set adequate timeframes for each phase of the project if you are unsure.
- Be ready for questions. Expect your ecommerce provider to ask questions – a lot of them. You won’t be able to prepare for all of them—just be ready to take notes and do your homework after the meeting.
- Think about 3rd party applications. Will you want to connect your ecommerce site to social media networks or user-generated content? What about site analytics tools or marketing platforms? Do you have a blog that should link to your storefront? All of these 3rd party applications require consideration to ensure successful integration with your site. Knowing which 3rd party apps you need to link to will help your ecommerce partner anticipate how to best develop your site.
- Under the hood. Have you made any customizations to your ERP? ERPs are renowned for their flexibility, but using built-in triggers or custom fields everyday can lead to taking them for granted. These are the bits of information your ecommerce platform will need to know at the outset to streamline the integration process.
- Roll up your sleeves. Chances are good that after the discovery meeting, you will be required to provide key data to your ecommerce partner. Prepare for some heavy lifting post-meeting, but know that the work you put in now will pay off in a smooth implementation process later.
- Expect the unexpected. Think of everything you possibly can in preparation for the meeting, but be ready to consider things you hadn’t previously thought of. Some of those things will be, “DOH!” moments, but don’t worry—it happens to everyone.
A successful ecommerce discovery meeting will identify what you want to do and how you wish to do it. Your pre-meeting preparation will ensure that your project is launched as quickly and as smoothly as possible.
Learn more about how to maximize the success of your ecommerce site by downloading the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.