Key Steps in an Ecommerce Planning Process
The internet offers endless ways to reach customers around the world, beyond those who can visit stores in person. In fact, some businesses operate without a single physical store.
This digital shift has been underway for decades and, more than ever, companies that sell goods must invest in e-commerce. Organizations that haven’t moved their sales transactions online can still make the jump to virtual storefronts, but the business requires planning to ensure they can successfully build an online presence and guarantee success. continued.
In addition to the resources, planning, and tools needed for successful virtual storefronts, businesses must prioritize online interactions with customers. Organizations need to consider several key areas when beginning an e-commerce planning process.
1. Define general e-commerce goals
While an organization may have ambitions to increase its overall sales, e-commerce affects the way it does business. Management teams need to establish their key business goals when adopting e-commerce and determine how the new strategy will align with the company’s vision and goals. E-commerce is an extension of the organization, so if it doesn’t align with business goals, the business is unlikely to grow or gain a wider audience.
2. Allocate resources to support e-commerce
Online sales do not always require someone to receive and process payments. E-commerce therefore uses resources, such as automation, to process orders and respond to customer questions or issues. For example, FAQ pages and chatbots can answer simple customer questions about order status or shipping information.
These dedicated resources can ensure customers have positive experiences, which can keep them coming back.
3. Align marketing and sales strategies
The Internet offers organizations new to e-commerce the ability to reach customers thousands of miles away. However, this reach also means that sales and marketing teams must shift their strategies and embrace social media and search engine optimization to reach potential and existing customers online.
E-commerce sales and marketing strategies can also introduce online advertisements and the ability to resell products on various online marketplaces, such as Amazon and eBay.
4. Define target customers and their needs
Organizations need to establish their ideal online customer base. After defining their target audience, sales and marketing teams can update their efforts and campaigns to reach these people and support their online shopping experiences.
Understanding the target audience can also influence how design teams create the organization’s online catalog, as some products may require customers to customize the product or service they want.
5. Create a customer service plan
An organization’s overall business strategy requires customer service, and e-commerce is no different. Organizations should establish processes and procedures for responding to customer requests, cancellations, or general questions they receive electronically or over the phone during the purchase process.
Larger organizations may need a call or contact center to support online sales, as the volume of purchases may be high enough to require 24/7 global customer support.
6. Invest in the right technology
E-commerce software vendors have simplified implementation over the years. Many vendors, such as Shopify, offer online stores that organizations can plug and play into their existing websites.
Before choosing e-commerce software, businesses should define their e-commerce needs, the type of catalog, and the overall product options they require.
7. Identify integration requirements
When an organization invests in an e-commerce platform, it must address integration with its internal systems and existing vendors. This process may include integrating the online store with an internal inventory system to display stock levels, a system to generate shipping labels, accounting to post all sales to a financial platform, or the integration of the conversion rate to establish the price of products in foreign currencies.
8. Create KPIs for Online Sales
Sales teams must manage and monitor online sales like traditional in-store sales. Once these teams add e-commerce to their regular funnels and forecast reviews, they need to continuously evaluate online sales performance to ensure they are succeeding.
Online sales teams should also have goals that they can evaluate to assess trends and potential changes that could be made if online shopping declines.
9. Look for continuous improvements
Management teams need to keep up with changes in their market, including new competitors, marketing channels, customer desires, and ways to improve internal operations to get products to customers quickly and efficiently.
E-commerce teams can build an online store quickly, but planning ahead can help ensure the site attracts enough sales to increase revenue. Planning also helps companies allocate resources efficiently, understand their goals, and set up key performance indicators to check that their e-commerce strategy is working.