Ecommerce Success: The hard work isn’t the website, it’s operationalizing the technology (Pt. 2)

As VL OMNI recently shared our expert knowledge on the road first at Prosper Show 2018 and then across the UK on our Shopify Plus-backed Roadshow tour, now’s the perfect time to continue where we left off in Part 1 of our two-part series!

In Part one of this two-part article series, we set out to establish that the best ecommerce websites do not exist as stand-alones. They rely on carefully selected technology, partners, and more to create a customer experience that extends far beyond the ecommerce website. From the first search engine query to the cart checkout, delivery, and re-engagement, there’s much more that goes into creating and maintaining ecommerce success.

Ecommerce Success Is Creating A Great Customer Experience – From First Touch, Onward

In Part I, we left off by introducing the importance of matching your corporate strategy/strategies against goals and technology. There’s a direct relationship between strategy and technology — the latter are the tactics or tools that allow you to execute on your strategy, while the former is informing the road map of where you want your business to go.

Confusion and errors in building out a highly functional, tightly woven technological back end with that of executing strategy is a common misunderstanding, and an extremely forgivable one. With all the excitement around the possibilities of new or rapidly improving applications, it can be very easy to get swept up in the hype.

And matching strategy to tactics is not even where your business should be starting, in reality: it’s very important to have even a preliminary strategic outline before evaluating tactics, otherwise you risk having the tactics drive your strategy instead of the other way around. If you want to learn more about crafting a tailored strategy and how to match the right tactics (technology and more) to achieve these goals.

So why is the intersection between strategy and tactics so important? The two together are what serves to inform your customer experience.

In Part 1, we outlined that customer experience does not start nor stop with a great-looking ecommerce website, but instead the promises made by a sleek user interface and front-end customer experience needs to be fulfilled by the technology — the nuts and bolts behind the scenes. Without the two sides of the business working in sync as a unified whole, you can almost guarantee that the customer experience will suffer.

Which brings us to the final but perhaps most important point of this section: how you tie your technology together is extremely important to informing a consistently excellent customer experience. Your chosen data integration strategy (again, based on your needs, business rules, and specific business requirements) and the data integration solution you choose to implement is extremely important. For example, if you choose a data integration solution that’s undersized for your business’ needs (like a plug-and-play integration, or a hard-coded solution), your customers’ order data may not get moved out of your ecommerce platform and into your accounting systems and shipping systems in a timely and efficient matter. Email notifications may be delayed, and so may delivery. All of these individually small pain points can quickly add up to unhappy customers who simply will not return to shop with you next time.

So keep your strategy front and center in filling out your tactical plan with applications and solutions, but also keep in mind how everything needs to be connected together: nothing’s worse than onboarding technology that won’t allow you to move data the way your business needs to!

Ecommerce Success Is Surrounding Your Business with Partners, Not Suppliers

To round off this two-part article, we leave you with perhaps one of the most important yet least mentioned elements in creating long-term ecommerce success: surrounding your business with trusted partners.

There’s a subtle difference between partners and suppliers when it comes to those businesses that are built to serve your business and its industry. Partners are those businesses that are invested in the success of your business over the long-term; suppliers are those that serve the market, but are not necessarily as invested in working with your individual company on its success and growth.

Just like the difference between strategy and tactics, the nuances between partners and suppliers comes down to — again — your chosen strategy. If you’re looking for a long-term relationship with the businesses that help your business run, then you should be looking at a partner, and should be evaluating culture fit and the solution set for the long-term. But if you have more immediate, short term goals or are looking for clipped, specific functionality, then you may in fact be looking for a supplier: a business that can give you the tools you need for the now.

In Summary

In both Part 1 and Part 2 of this article, there’s been one constant: the importance of the intersection of your business’ strategy and chosen tactics for fulfilling that strategy. Because of the importance of these two elements in creating a great customer experience from start to finish every time, creating a strategy for your business should be a carefully considered endeavor that is iterative. Consult with VL OMNI today to learn how we can help your business with strategic data integration and more.

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