A Guide to Kick-Off Your eCommerce Project in 2021

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In this article, we put together an ultimate guide to help navigate the ever-evolving eCommerce landscape.  

  • We broke down the thought process behind how to align project objectives and responsibilities between your IT and Marketing functions.
  • We laid out a step-by-step plan on how to set up your project for success.
  • We identified how to select the best agency “fit” to ensure a successful implementation.  

IT and Marketing Collaboration is mission-critical from the beginning.  

Digital transformation is by no means new these days. Unfortunately, only 22% of enterprises achieved their desired business results through digital transformation projects, according to an Everest Group Study last year.  

IT and Marketing collaboration is vital to the success to any digital project.

Let us break down the reasons.  

To meticulously plan a large-scale eCommerce integration project, you want to evaluate every aspect from the get-go.  

  • From the Technology side, e.g., system integration, data flows, scalability, and business continuity.  
  • From the Marketing side, e.g., find the right technology, data readiness, ROI, and customer experience.  

It is essential--but often missed--to have an implementation partner from the beginning to help with alignment among multiple teams.  

With over a decade of experience helping enterprises overcome challenges in transformation projects, we’ve discovered that clients who involve an implementation partner early in the process create better alignment between IT and Marketing which directly affects affecting eCommerce success initiatives.  

A qualified implementation partner helps bridge the communication gap between Marketing and IT.  

  • More communication means better alignment.  
  • Better alignment means less risk.  
  • Less risk saves time, saving budget.  

In order to realize success, it is critical to make alignment between Marketing and IT a top priority before embarking on an eCommerce transformation project.  

Next, let us dive into how to align these initiatives.  

 

3 Simple steps for better alignment at the beginning of an eCommerce project.  

We have explored the importance of aligning IT and Marketing before kicking off the project.  

Here are the steps to go about it:

Step one -Clarify the pain points you want to address with this project:  

Company level:  

  • Name the challenges your company is facing and why implementing an eCommerce project can be the solution.  
  • Ensure the importance of the initiative to the entire company; transparency is the key to alignment.  

Department level:

  • Discuss the current pain points with the IT and Marketing departments and identify the mutual benefits of resolving them.
  • Evaluate departments outside of IT and Marketing and find their pain points for not having an effective eCommerce platform.

Step Two - Align on the goals you want to achieve with this project:  

Company level:  

  • Understand your company’s short-term and long-term business goals and how those goals can be achieved or exceeded by implementing eCommerce platform.  
  • List those goals as well as the associated success metrics.  

Department level:

  • Understand IT and Marketing performance goals and how the eCommerce project will affect those KPIs.
  • Develop an execution plan and visualize how a successful implementation will contribute to the goal (OKR and OGSM are both useful frameworks to consider).

Step Three - Appoint a Project Leader Who is Ultimately Accountable for the Outcome.  

Here are some questions to think about to identify the proper candidate.  

  • Which of the departments is most impacted by the identified Pain Points and Goals?
  • Which department has the bandwidth to take on an added significant initiative?  
  • Is it possible to appoint or hire an eCommerce leader or a digital transformation leader to be in charge?  

The appointed leader should hold an independent position, focusing on addressing the company’s Pain Points and Goals and advocating for all departments, including Marketing, IT, Merchandising, Customer Support, Sales, and others.  

 

Now, you have a project leader Next, it is important to select a qualified implementation partner. This is something most companies don’t do early enough, resulting in budget loss and missed deadlines.  

 

eCommerce Implementation Partners: Who are They, What do They do, and How to Select the Right Service for Your Project?

According to a survey by Forbes and Deloitte, some common eCommerce implementation challenges include change management, data quality, business requirements, and poor implementation tactics.  

Therefore, selecting the correct implementation partner is critical.

What is an Implementation Partner?

An implementation partner is typically a technology services agency that has been certified by the software platform and is specialized in integrating specific platforms into existing systems.  

According to Gartner, there are two types of eCommerce implementation partners:  

  • Digital Agencies: their strengths are Strategy, UX, and Visual Design. While they can do technical integrations and development work, it is not their strong suit.
  • System Integrators: their strengths are in Technology, System Integrations, and Development. While they can do Strategy, UX, and Visual Design, it is not their strong suit.    

Which type of partner should you choose for your eCommerce project?  

It depends on the specifics of the project. Is it strategy and UX heavy, or is it technically complex with critical systems integrations? It also depends on your in-house Marketing and IT capabilities.

  • If you have a strong in-house marketing team, then a Systems Integrator partner would be a wise choice.  
  • Or, if you have a solid IT team with eCommerce expertise, then a Digital Agency would be A better fit.  

Identifying the gap between your IT and Marketing team is key. Both types of implementation partners will help you execute on eCommerce best practices. In addition to that:

  • a Digital Agency helps your IT team to understand the intricacies of Marketing within the eCommerce context.  
  • a System Integrator helps your Marketing team navigate the complexities of Technology within the eCommerce context.  

From what we have seen in the past decade, System Integrators are appointed as implementation partners in most cases. And according to Gartner, through 2021, 90 percent of global organizations will rely on System Integrators (SIs) to design, build, and implement their digital experience strategies.

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