Killer RFP Step #6 – Determine Digital Commerce Integrations

As a general user of a digital commerce platform, you think about the experience of buying products on that website.  When in reality, that website is just the storefront for what is going on; very much like a real store in the mall. There are many parts and pieces that make a real store and a digital commerce store work. It’s time to determine the digital commerce integrations that make up your digital commerce solution.

Why are digital commerce integrations needed

Why you might ask, are there many parts.  The answer is that different pieces of software are better at doing different things. Think about where you work, and the people that work there.  If for example, you work in a grocery store, there are employees who buy the groceries; there are people that stock the shelves, there are people that check customers out and many other roles.  It takes all of these people with unique skills to run the store.

The same is true for digital commerce sites.  There are pieces of software that are good with the descriptions of the products; there is software that knows the inventory, there is software that can manage your orders, and software that can get your orders shipped to your customers.

When you think about it this way, it makes sense.  Our next step in creating a Killer RFP is to figure out what all of these software solutions are that integrate with our storefront to make a perfect customer experience.  To do that we need to meet with different teams and continue our research.

Meeting to identify digital commerce integrations

In step #4 you started to gather features, and some are categorized as integrations.  Start with that list and then prepare to add to it.  Now you can go back and meet with your different stakeholder teams.

These are the teams that I usually start with:

  • Product Development
  • Product Inventory and Pricing
  • Design and Copywriting
  • Online Marketing
  • Order Fulfilment
  • Order Support
  • Finance

Schedule meetings with these stakeholders and ask them these questions:

  • Which software, tools, and websites do you use, that interact with our digital commerce platform?
  • Then for each of the tools or website they identify, ask:
    • What does It do?
    • How does it interact with our digital commerce platform? (they may not know)
    • (If applicable) Could you provide me a copy of the contract for it?
    • (If applicable) How much does it cost and when is the contract up for renewal?
    • Do you like it, or is there a better solution you would want to use?
    • How easy is it to use? How easily does it integrate with the digital commerce platform?

Record all of their answers and begin to sketch how the systems fit together.

Meet with website support teams

Next, meet with the website team, systems support, and information technology teams and do the following:

  • Show them the list of software, tools, and websites you have already collected, and ask:
    • Tell me what you know about these solutions?
    • Do you like them or is there something new we should consider?
    • How much work is it for your team? Could this be simplified?
  • What other software, tools, and websites are there that interact with the digital commerce platform. For each of these ask the same questions identified above.

Draft a digital commerce integration map

Using your favorite solution modeling tool create a map of how all of these items are interact with each other at a high level.  The map will begin to show you all of the pieces that interact together to make your digital commerce solution.

Schedule a meeting with your major stakeholder at this time and share the draft integration map and the details you uncovered.  Then working with them answer the following questions:

  • Which of these integrations do we want to keep?
  • Which do we want to eliminate?
  • Which do we want to replace with a new solution?
  • What is missing from this drawing that we need to add?

Add Integrations to your requirement

At this time you will have started to understand what integrations are used in the digital commerce solution and how they need to change.  Organize all of the information you have gathered and add it to your requirements and features.

By this point in your RFP discovery, you are starting to have a better understanding of all the parts and pieces of your complete digital commerce solution. You now will also be able to start to create visual representations of the solution.  These visualizations make it much easier for your stakeholders and team to understand your end solution.

Would you like to know more?  Please refer back to the Luminos Labs blog in the coming months for more details on steps 7 – 13 of writing a killer RFP.

Appendix – Consider all these potential integrations

If you here there are no integrations, here is a list you can share that can help.  These are some things that are frequently integrated with digital commerce solutions:

  • A/B Testing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Analytics
  • AVS (Address Verification System)
  • CDN (Content Delivery Network)
  • CMS (Content Management System)
  • Credit Card Authorization
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
  • Currency Exchange Service
  • DAM (Digital Asset Management)
  • Dynamic Image Resizing
  • Email Marketing Service
  • ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)
  • Fraud Management
  • Geo-IP
  • Gift Cards
  • Marketing Tools
  • OMS (Order Management System)
  • Online Chat/ LiveChat
  • Payment Gateway
  • PIM (Product Information Management)
  • Price Match
  • Product Recommendations
  • Products Feed
  • Ratings & Reviews
  • Reporting tools
  • Retargeting
  • Search Engine
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Shipping Calculation tool
  • Social Media site links
  • Store Locator
  • Tag Manager
  • Tax Calculator
  • Translation Service
  • Triggered Emails