One of the most common things I hear from distributors and manufacturers in the first couple of conversations is:
We don’t know what we don’t know.
First of all – it is okay – you are completely normal. How are you expected to understand what has taken some of us years to understand? To help you out, here are a few things you need to understand about your eCommerce software before you make your decision. In short: you need to know how this software will work for you. Here are 6 key questions to ask.
1. Who does what?
There are a bunch of activities as part of your eCommerce project. You must have a clear understanding of who is doing what between you, your software vendor, an implementation partner, and your creative partner. Yes, these can be combined. Before you select a vendor, make sure you have a clear understanding of who is responsible for each of the following:
- Project management
- Building product data
- Product / Category taxonomy
- Software training
- Integration (this is a big one)
- Site maintenance
- Changes and customizations
- Creative design
- Styling existing content
- Site marketing
In addition, here are the common elements that you will probably need to pre-load into your system. Make sure you understand who is responsible for loading each of these:
- Product Data
- Customer contracts
- Customer pricing
- Past orders
- Existing site content
2. How will our people use it?
You don’t want to have to call your vendor or partners every time you want to make a change. Do you have a good understanding of how your people will use the software on a daily basis? Here are a few questions to answer:
- How will we add new static pages?
- How will we add / update / delete categories, products, attributes, description, and images
3. How many internal staff members should we dedicate?
This is a great question. Depending on your goals and objectives, you may need 1 part time or maybe a full team of people to run the site on a daily basis.
4. What are we planning to integrate?
What does the vendor think you need to integrate? What do YOU believe should be integrated? Here are few starters:
- Inventory Availability
- Customer contracts
Other potential (not a full list):
- Content Management System CMS (are you using a CMS today that is planned to be integrated?)
- Digital Asset Management System DAM
- Analytics (Google analytics, PIWIC, Omniture, etc.)
- E-Mail Marketing
5. How will we manage our on-site search?
What tools are available in the platform to control and manage search? How will our people use it?
6. How will we build our product data?
How are we going to build and optimize our product data? This one may be on you, but you still need to understand it. Product data is key, and it is important to understand where you are getting your product data from, how it is going to be loaded, and how it will be enriched and optimized.