There are some interesting industry trends that we’ll be sharing over the next few weeks. One of those data points relates to the cloud and its position as a strategic imperative. Without diving into all the research right now, the data shows that moving e-commerce (and its supporting ecosystem) to the cloud is the road to future agility, innovation, cost management and service differentiation. When you get ready to move, we want you to be prepared for the process so here are 5 mistakes to avoid when moving your e-commerce ecosystem to the cloud.
Over customization – Part of what makes a company successful is that its brand or experience is differentiated from the competition. Your e-commerce solution should support those efforts to differentiate out of the box. If it can’t, red flags should go up. Customization gives way to over-customization when you need to take control of your business in a way the application can’t easily support. The effect is that you begin to erase all the economics of the cloud. Extra customization costs man hours and in some cases prevents future upgrades. Now you’ve lost the advantage of ongoing innovation, or at least made it more expensive.
Our advice: think through your branding and site experience as part of the evaluation and stay as close to the box as possible.
Wrong Partner – You're moving to the cloud for any number of reasons. Whether its price, innovation capacity or agility you still need a partner. This partner will help you get up and running with your initial launch and be the go to for long term extension/customization work. The reality is, you occasionally – OCCASIONALLY – need to do some things that don't come out of the box. A successful SI relationship requires both a deep understanding of your business and what work has already been done. Having a poor partner, one that competes solely on price or one that sells grander visions than you have, costs a lot in the long run.
Our Advice: Have a multi-year road-map and talk it through with multiple partners. Try to get a feel for their view of the market, what trends you should chase and which trends you should let pass. Make sure they share the same vision for your brand.
Forgetting the ecosystem – E-commerce doesn’t operate in a vacuum. What does your business need to succeed? Call center? Configuration engine? Social integration? You want to know that if you need to expand your service capabilities your solution provider can make it happen. Do they have the right offerings to support you or can they easily integrate with the right provider?
Our Advice: Same as #2. Having a road-map and a long term vision pays huge dividends – long term that is.
Buying for today – There is a road-map theme developing here. In this case it applies to both the solution provider and you as the buyer. I have seen, and lost, more than one deal revolving around feature function discussions. When I see brands choosing their vendors based on feature functions they tend to choose the vendor with the smaller feature set. They tend to feel like the other solution is “overkill.” Maybe, but if you’re successful the needs you have today won’t be the needs you have in 2 years. On the flip side, I’ve seen brands that have great alignment of vision with a solution provider but go against their better judgment because they felt they needed a feature right now. In the long run, they are dissatisfied.
Our Advice: Buy the road-map and buy the vision not necessarily the immediate feature set. Although it is implied, I will be explicit; the solution provider needs to be able to deliver on that vision. Look for execution capacity comparable to their vision.
Not having a growth plan - #4 above is actually caused by this mistake. If you don’t know where you want to be long term you can’t have discussion with solution providers to see if you agree on how to get there. One of the greatest benefits consumers of cloud technology get is a low cost to switch vendors. While this is true, you don’t want to do it if you don’t have to. If you don’t have an idea how to reach your long term goals you’ll buy the wrong platform and choose the wrong partner. Both of these cost time and money.
Our Advice: Get your senior most invested executive to cast a long term vision. Work backwards from there.