How old is your legacy ecommerce platform? For many retailers, their front-end and back-end platforms could be anywhere from 10 to 15 years old, leaving many in serious need of an overhaul. As technology continues to advance and omnichannel commerce grows in importance, your platform needs to be able to meet the rising expectations of the always-on consumer.
But where do you begin?
Charles Hunsinger, CIO of Harry & David, offered several tips on how retailers can update their ecommerce platforms during a session at eTail East 2014.
Hunsinger said you need to begin by documenting an IT strategy, pulling in stakeholder teams from marketing and IT.
“The process has to be facilitated – you have to look not just at technology, but whether you have the skills to take on the transformation,” he said.
Hunsinger said retailers need to look at the process side of the equation, including the metrics. How the implementation proceeds should be prioritized based on the business case, while also considering which approach will deliver the most impact.
“Retailers will want to make sure they are working on the right priorities,” said Hunsinger.
He said it is important to have a strategy roadmap which addresses questions such as what are the deadline estimates, and what can you accomplish within your list of priorities?
“I am a big believer in having a picture for your strategy,” said Hunsinger. “Try to get it on one page where people can look at it and discuss it.”
Hunsinger said it’s critical to organize for success around the roadmap and programming management capabilities.
Business collaboration and ownership among the stakeholders is mandatory. If they’re not engaged throughout the process, Hunsinger said,, the project won’t be successful.
When it comes to evaluating and selecting solutions, make sure you have competency and the process for evaluating your solutions.
Hunsinger said it is important to ask the vendors to come in and demonstrate how they plan to solve your most critical problems.
Keep a scorecard for your potential vendors. Hunsinger said it is okay to have both qualitative and quantitative measures for this. Good business process mapping also helps outline critical impacts of proposed projects.
“You have to understand where those processes are going to change,” said Hunsinger. “Think about how you want to run your business in the future. “Many migration projects are ultimately justified by process projects.”
Should you do all of this alone or ask for help? Hunsinger said updating your ecommerce platform can be a complex and sophisticated challenge. Look for outside help if you need it.
“Make sure people you pick who are truly an expert in what they do,” said Hunsinger. “Make sure your partner’s objectives are aligned with yours.”