As the technologies and the legal frameworks are increasingly supportive of cross-border trade and international expansion, we took the opportunity in our first Manchester working lunch to explore what constitute the key areas that need to be addressed with regard to the development of an ecommerce platform if you’re going to be prepared for international growth.
The discussion was so rich, and the presentation by Martin Harrison, Director of Ecommerce at Greenlight Digital, was so interesting that we’re going to explore different elements of discussion over the coming weeks. The really big question is when to make the decision to replatform, to take that step between a simple ecommerce site and a robust platform capable of meeting all of today’s customer expectations.
The first thing to be aware of all the different elements that need to be in place, and the constraints and concerns in the market:
The potential lack of basic / commodity features–search, browse, category hierarchy/mapping
- Inflexibility – in some systems it can be difficult to manipulate templates and layouts
- It can be expensive to develop, especially as you’ve got to keep the business on track when in development
- There are often complaints about poor project delivery – often caused by poor scoping and late delivery of development
- Lack of reporting can be a problem – if you’re paying for a platform you want to be able to get the information you need in the way that you want
- Some systems are structured so that you cannot extract data without project request through support or development
- There can be problems with checkout that cannot be identified or resolved, sometimes due to third party issues
- At the moment, there seems to be no roadmap for international markets, and the market seems very ad-hoc in approach
- Additional channels can be time consuming and expensive to build and run
- There seem to be few economies of scale from other retailer developments
- There is often a lack of resources for project delivery
- You want to be sure that there is a visionary roadmap – what you’re getting today might work but you need to keep up with market evolution
- Development drains resource and time internally due to effort around management
- And worst of all, business users and internal teams are not always empowered to control sites
Once you’ve worked out what you need to be aware, it’s time to start planning for how you’re going to deal with these issues. We’ll take a look later at how this might work.