via Forbes: Digital transformation has both positive and negative connotations for traditional retailers, manufacturers and wholesalers. While brick-and-mortar locations have seen a decline in foot traffic, many large retailers such as Best Buy, Nordstrom and Walmart are achieving success by selling online.
To satisfy the scaling demand for technology in online retail and wholesale, you must implement omnichannel, multichannel, marketing tools and cloud e-commerce solutions. The most important steps for developing an e-commerce solution come early on in the process: choosing the platform, tech stack and planning server architecture. Mistakes at this stage lead to high developmental risks — having to change and redevelop the technology at a later stage is not an option for most companies.
Here’s what you should consider on the road to a successful digital transformation:
Initial Workflow Considerations
Building a B2B e-commerce solution involves improving upon the best of your current workflows and extending their functionality to match your expansion plans. Start by analyzing your current business model and workflows and prioritizing your values.
1. Analyze your sales team’s workflow: What approach do your sales reps use? What would you like to jettison?
2. Streamline sales: Adapt your workflow based on how you procure clients. For example, if you’re a B2C company, you can speed up the ordering and checkout process by implementing cross sales, up sales and one-click checkout.
3. Take the best from your previous systems: Decide how to integrate your existing systems into your new e-commerce solution. You may decide to integrate your existing CRM, ERP, accounting and other systems to simplify the transition process across departments.
4. Structure your product catalog: Structure your product catalog so that it is accessible and convenient for customers. Include configurable options, related products and more. Share your vision with your development vendor and request data on user interface and user experience, as these elements motivate consumers to convert.
5. Reduce managerial headaches: Implement a comprehensive dashboard to optimize managerial workflows and simplify the decision making process.
6. Be ready to teach your staff the new system: Individual workflows may change across your team, but remember that the key to success is simplifying the consumer buying process.
These considerations are a good starting point when moving your retail or wholesale business online. The next step is focusing on the platform and tech stack you will use for your digital transformation.
Platform Choice And Architecture Planning
There is no irrefutable answer to the question of which platform and tech stack to use. The choice depends on the following three areas:
• Ability for the solution to manage more products at high page-loading speeds
• Security to enable safe transactions
• Scalability and load balancing to ensure the solution grows with the business
This list is not comprehensive and covers only the basics. Other factors to consider include whether you want to be an open-source or proprietary solution and the capability of your integrations to support your marketing, payment and delivery tools. Your choice of hosting provider may influence the whole life of your e-commerce project, so you must balance business planning with productivity and budgetary factors. Depending on the project size, you could be looking at one or more virtual private server (VPS) or cloud server. This is where an e-commerce development provider can assist you at the initial stages of the project.
The next step regarding e-commerce architecture is adjustment and optimization of the server. Use external productivity measurement tools, performance management tools and incident management systems to predict possible performance bottlenecks in order to avoid crashes.
Once the server architecture has been established, loads have been balanced and data-flow dependencies have been created, you may need to further optimize your e-commerce solution to:
• Speed up content load time (i.e., establish separate servers to manage visual content loading speed and script optimization)
• Enable content delivery networks
• Optimize images
Before diving headfirst into a digital e-commerce transformation, analyze your business and take into account your priorities and vision for the future. Only by having a detailed understanding of your business’s needs can you successfully implement your goals within a reasonable timeframe and budget.