Finally, the right kind of Roadmap
FAILING TO PLAN IS PLANNING TO FAIL
You need to plan to create a long-term sustainable growth, not just a short-term gain. Deciding on which ecommerce platform you will be using should be no different than deciding on what car you will buy, or what house you will live in. You'd hire a real estate agent to take you around to look at new houses, why not hire an agent to show you around different ecommerce software. When you buy a house, you plan to stay there for years, so buy an ecommerce platform for as far as you can see your business grow. Make your ecommerce software choice the same way you would choose your new house. Don't buy an ecommerce platform the same way you buy milk at the supermarket. Your ecommerce software is like a bucket and your marketing dollars that you will spend is your water. You don't want to pour water into a leaky bucket; it's a waste of money. Don't make your decision based on how much you will save on the bucket without realizing how much money you will waste on the water first if the bucket is leaky. Care, Care, Care! about your business requirements and how the all the software will work for your business for as far as you can see it grow.
DID YOU KNOW?
Who works on your project matters, and hiring a Junior position that should have been done by a Senior position is how projects fail. Did you know there are four kinds of positions that exist in company departments?
- JUNIOR, one who has less than 6 months of experience in the process he will execute.
- REGULAR, one who has more than 6 months of experience and has been certified to be an expert in the specific process he will execute.
- SENIOR, one who has more than 1 year of experience and has been certified to be an expert in the specific process he will execute.
- LEADER, one on the executive team, CxO or a VP, he is qualified to create long-term plans for company projects.
Did you know that each position varies in salaries depending on the industry?
ROADMAP & DISCOVERY PLANNING
There are nine types of roadmaps and trainings that you need to plan
If you have never done a successful project from A to Z for eCommerce, do not assume that you know anything. Come in with an open mind and get the most expensive quote you can get by line item, and understand what each line item means, why it is there, and how you will do it if you dont want to pay for it. Just because you don't want to pay for an expensive implementation does not mean those line items do not have to be done. By ignoring your problem, it will not go away- it will just spread like a disease until you face it and do something about it.
- Can you speak to any clients who have gone through a successful Roadmap and are happy?
- Have you gotten a full implementation broken down by line item with hours and costs?
- Do you have the experience to do any of these line items on the setup?
- Will you get to see a proof of concept before the whole implementation is going to start?
- Have you considered the full checklist for prelaunching your webstore? https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1748818/Price/websitemigration.pdf
- Have you considered what happens after the creation of the roadmap? Who will support and lead you through the roadmap to the finish line up to the point of changing the DNS of your website?
- If you are migrating websites have you considered the effects of SEO disruption, Sales Funnel Disruption, and Redirects (Watch these videos: https://www.shoppingcartelite.com/articles/marketing-services)
Business software is usually split into four segments: ERP that handles financials, CRM that handles customer database and customer service, Distribution that handles your fulfillment, and eCommerce that handles your website, marketplaces, and marketing. It is common to have multiple software integrations that make your end to end solution but the best practice is to have as less as possible, and have one party that is responsible for all the integrations to work.
- What kind of software will you require for Accounting, Warehouse Management, CRM, eCommerce, Marketplaces, Analytics?
- How will all this software work together and will it work together flawlessly?
- Who will be responsible for making sure the whole thing functions and does not break? And if it does break who will be the responsible party to fix it and make sure it works?
- Who can claim or prove that the complete software bundle will work, and do you trust them? How liable are they if it doesn't work?
- Are there customers who use the complete bundle and are happy with the complete bundle and it does exactly what it needs for them, and you are fine with matching the competitors business requirements?
Each marketplace requires a specific set of data attributes to be included with each SKU in order to get successfully submitted. In addition you may want your data to look one way on the website, another way on Amazon and a third way on eBay. It gets even more complicated when you includes kits, bundles, vehicle fitment, required valid UPCs, double attributes and a dozen other requirements. Most solutions in the market require to you load your data onto the website, and then you integrate with a marketplace channel management software that will copy this data and continue expanding on it. The problem with this solution is you end up with several product databases that you have to maintain in several places and you will never be able to centralize this product database across software to create a real end to end solution that works with your ERP, Financials, Distribution and eCommerce.
- Did you see a proof of concept where the data will reside in one software and sync across every marketplace without any kind of issues and look exactly how you want in all places?
- Are all required features such as bundles, kits, fitment work across all channels and the website?
- Will the data be located in one central location and updated across all channels from the same place?
- Does the software create new listings on Amazon or only sync inventory and orders?
- How will the software accomodate different cross reference SKUs that may exist on existing listings?
- Does the software have an error activity log where you can check for issues daily?
- Can you have a custom eBay design template with the listing software?
- How fast is the syncing between all channels?
- Can you maintain different prices, descriptions, and inventory requirements from one software?
Daily Workflow Discovery
Each one of your employees has a specific workflow on what they need to do. Before you can address the questions you need to design a basic company workflow chart using Lucidchart.com and document every step so you can share that with the consultant. It is also important to make sure that your consultant has enough experience to give you good advice. Is your consultant a Junior, Regular, Senior or Lead in their position? Are you comfortable with their experience and position to advise you on best practices and recommendations?
- Are your current workflow steps following best practices or are there better ways to do the work?
- What parts of the workflow can be automated by software that you will choose to use?
- What parts of the workflow have to change in order to minimize the amount of time it takes to do that task?
- Are some of the workflows irrelevant if you choose a certain software?
Advanced Features Discovery
Do not assume that what you think the software claims to do, should do, or promises to do, will do what you want. Do not assume that if the software works for someone else, it will work for you. Do not assume that someone who doesnt do exactly what you do, will have the same integrations or workflows in place that will work for you as well as it works for them.
- Can the software handle all the features you require today, 1 month, 1 year and 3 years from now?
- If not, how long will the software last before you need to upgrade or switch?
- What are the costs involved for switching after 1 year to something else?
- What kind of disruption will you face after switching?
- How much money will you save vs lose for not having these features if the business starts to require them? Is it worth the risk for not having them?
- Is it worth it for you to save money and to not have these advanced features now? Have you done the calculation and analysis?
- Can the software do all the advanced features you require?
- Have you seen them in action or received commitments from the software vendor?
Basic Software Training
The tutorials, videos, and setup Wizard on a shopping cart are great. What these will give you are the most basic, high-level features that you need such as placing an order, or adding a tracking number. But this is not where the training ends.
Daily Workflow Training
The real training starts at how to apply every employees daily tasks within the software. What kind of position and experience does the person have that is helping you train on your workflows? Are they a Junior, Regular, Senior or Lead in this position? Are you comfortable with their experience and position to advise you on best practices and recommendations? Do they really understand your business and how to apply it in the software? For example:
- How do you import products in bulk when you are on the phone?
- How do you split orders, ship certain items, and place other items on backorder?
- How do you process complicated refunds with store credits and rewards?
- How do you create a quote and add a follow-up reminder to it?
- How do you generate a receivable report and contact customers?
- How do you run and audit your settlement reports?
- At what point do you do order fulfillment, sync with accounting, and add tracking information?
- How does the complete workflow work for every worker, and how do I audit them?
- How do I set security roles for each worker?
Unless you hire an expert, who will understand your business requirement and your daily workflows and align them with the software they know like the back of their hand, you will fail to implement 100% of it. As a result, you will end up not using 80% of the software because you either had no time to learn it or figure out how to apply it to your workflows, and when you add the amount of money you will lose from not implementing the whole software, the question that will come up is why are you on this software in the first place?
Advanced Features Training
Most people do not implement even 20% of the software they buy, even if they know it has features in it that will benefit their business. This happens because they never had the training on how to use those features, and as the time went on they just never got to it.
- Do you know how to setup all the advanced features that you will require? For example, Shopping Cart Elite has a tag manager where all the traffic coming from AdWords, Affiliates, Facebook, etc. can be segmented to see the performance. The traffic will also have engagement attached to it to generate reports and measure the performance of these campaigns. Based on those reports your marketing team can take action on what to buy and not buy. Not using this feature will result in a huge loss of advertising revenue and loss of opportunity.
- Do you know how to use Email Marketing segmentation with Email marketing in Shopping Cart Elite? For example, you can create a segment of customers who registered, showed intent to buy something but did not buy the product, you can then send them emails or SMS messages to try to engage with them and find out if they are interested in still buying the product.
- Do you know how to use the reports to help you with enhancing the performance of the staff?
- Do you know how to use projects to set a budget for your internal projects?
- Do you know how to use tickets and tasks to control the follow-ups and tasks of employees?
Post Live Support
This is the final straw that breaks the camels back. By now I hope you understand that the software you are running is 10x greater in functionality than the control panel of a Boeing 747. Just like the pilot has access to the control tower if they ever need help, you need a team behind you that can help you along the way if you have questions. You must not assume that the only help you will need is related to Basic Software Training, because someone also has to understand your business, daily workflows, software integrations and advanced features that you are using, and how you expect these features to work. If you think you can just call a regular customer service individual, domestic or remote, then expect them to have an answer related to your business, you will not get any!
- What kind of position and experience does the person have that is helping you with post live support? Are they a Junior, Regular, Senior or Lead in this position? Are you comfortable with their experience and position to advise you on best practices and recommendations? Do they really understand your business and how to apply it in the software?
- Will you have a dedicated personal account manager that will know your business as well as you do?
- How often will your account manager change?
- If the account manager changes will they pass the knowledge base over to the next account manager?
- Who besides the account manager is available to assist you with your requests?
- What is the risk that your business will stall because the post live support will fail you?
- Are there happy clients that actively use the post live support that will recommend it?
My name is Igor Soshkin, CEO of Shopping Cart Elite. You have no idea how many software, integrations, and implementations we went through to finalize the selection of software, partners, and staff we have today. For me to sit here and confidently tell you that your project will be a success with Shopping Cart Elite should give you confidence because my opinion consists of 15 years of experience and thousands of project implementations where we continued to try and try and try to get an end to end solution that works for our customer. We finally have the right formula of software, partners and staff to deliver an end to end solution and that is more than most can claim.
The purpose of the roadmaps we are proposing is to make sure that there is NO chance of your project failing. If we understand every portion of your business requirements, and plan ahead with the right solutions then it just simply can't fail. These roadmaps are not cheap, and you may feel they are not necessary because you have a simple business. But think about this, would you build your house without an architect? A house is not hard to build, but would you invest the amount of time and money to build it yourself without a roadmap? Don't build your ecommerce software solution without one either. Even if you hire cheap labor to execute the project, the roadmaps must be done by experts who have enough experience and successful implementation to make you feel comfortable that they will be delivered successfully.
The bottom line is if you have a growing business, you will either sink from growth, or you will come around again after realizing that the amount of money you are wasting on non-working solutions has to stop. There is no way to avoid this roadmap stage, you will either do it now, or you will do it in a year after losing tens of thousands of dollars.