By Melissa Curra, Client Strategist at SUMO Heavy
I began working in eCommerce nearly two years ago. From the start, I was amazed at how delicate and intricate the processes were. As Project Manager, it was my job to use the tools available to meet deadlines, facilitate conversations, and achieve eCommerce success for both my company and my clients. The only catch: I was an English Major, with a background of working in media agencies and magazines. The metrics and technologies were new to me, especially where Project Management was concerned. I realized over time, however, that it’s not just about the technology. Success in eCommerce involves constant transparency, a dedication to the bottom line, and the ability to track trends within a fast, always-improving industry.
We’ve put together a list of seven tips that cover the fundamentals of rocking out within the eCommerce world, no matter your department.
1. Know Your Goals
The most important thing is to know the goals of your e-commerce team. If Ted from Marketing has a different goal than Linda from sales, and neither of them knows what the CEO’s goal is, then you need to get them united behind a common desire. Hint: you and your team’s overarching goal is to build something that generates the most revenue as possible. Your team’s responsibility is to determine the “how” of that goal. Maybe it’s creating a seamless user experience on your site, or re-evaluating things like Checkout flow. Or re-evaluating your company’s technologies and resources. Internal communication and aligned goals are key. Without it, no developer or designer will make a difference.
2. Learn The Basics
If you’re new to the world of eCommerce, welcome! eCommerce is a magical land(mine) of tools and technologies. It might not be your role to work with these tools at all times, but it’s good practice to familiarize yourself. Does your company use Jira to work through issues? Is your site built on Magento? Shopify? HTML knowledge is always helpful; if not for your company, learn it for your career. Having a handle on the systems that make up the backbone of your company is going to make your goals more attainable. Be sure to ask your tech or dev team about books, sites, and training courses available for the resources within your company. The more you know the greater value you are to your team. It won’t hurt your resume, either.
3. Online Shopping Is Great Research
When you shop online at work, you‘d generally have to peer over your shoulder to make sure that no one sees you. But when you work in eCommerce, any site you visit is actually a great way to get accustomed to the ever-changing designs, user flows, and experiences that are trending within the industry. Who are your competitors? What do you like about their sites? What do you hate about their sites? What are some of your favorite eComm experiences? Why? These are all great things to notice while you shop online, so just tell your boss that it’s all in the name of the bottom line! (We think they’ll understand.)
4. You’re Going To Work With Developers
Developers are a remarkable breed. They make the magic happen. They can create components and features on your site that are so seamless that you’ll wonder how it ever functioned without them. Here’s the thing: if you are not on top of your communication with them, it’s all null. Try writing out as many Specification Documents (or “specs” as they’re called in the industry) as you can. Want a new checkout flow? Looking for a new menu dropdown design? Write it all out, from how you want it to look to how you want it to function. Be as thorough as you can. Developers, while wizards with a keyboard, cannot read your mind. The more details you give them, the better the outcome. Build an awesome relationship with your developers, it will pay you back, a thousand fold.
5. Set Realistic Expectations
If someone came into your office and broke something, could you fix it in ten minutes? Probably not. The same logic should apply to an eCommerce site. Things are going to malfunction, it’s the nature of the game. When things “break” or don’t work the way they should, the first thing to do is follow any procedures your development team has in place. If there are deadlines for a particular project, be sure to give your team ample time to plan and problem solve! If it’s an emergency, work with your developer(s) to get an accurate time estimate for the issue at hand. Once that’s sorted, you’ll be able to prioritize to get your problem solved quickly and efficiently. Again, the more you communicate (both internally and with third-party vendors), the more quickly you’ll be able to extinguish fires as they arise.
6. Always Revisit #1
A major aspect of working in eCommerce is picking and choosing on behalf of your team’s unified goals, especially if you are the eComm Manager. Make sure you’re constantly asking yourself, “does this help or hurt our bottom line?”. For example, if Glen from Creative wants a new header, but Patricia from Customer Service noticed a drop in sales due to a specific problem on the site, consider which is more urgent. Remember, eCommerce ebbs and flows; while Glen’s issue might come second to Patricia’s, that doesn’t mean he’ll never get his new header. It just means that Patricia’s issue more greatly threatened the set goals for your team. Once you’re able to perfect this method of prioritization, you’ll be in great shape.
7. Never Stop Asking Questions
Here’s the thing: everything you learn about eCommerce is always going to change. There are so many moving parts to your site’s greater whole and if there is a piece of the puzzle that confuses you, ask someone to clarify. If a deadline is nearing and you’re not exactly sure of the project’s progress, ask for an itemized list of things you’ll need to accomplish your goal. If you need content or assets to get something done, ask for them! (You see where we’re going.) Getting helpful answers to your genuine questions is a great way to prevent recurring issues, create healthy team communication, and (most of all) have a profitable eCommerce site.
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