Imagine you are going to build a your own unique, custom house. You have your block of land, the time, the money and the manpower all ready to go, the only thing the builders are waiting for is your direction on the specifications and plans for it.
I know you are probably scratching your head because you thought you were on an ecommerce blog reading an article talking about ecommerce requirements. Don’t fret and just bare with me – this exercise in imagination is relevant to understanding the rest of the article
The site manager approaches you and asks: ‘what do you need in your house? What do you want from the house once it is completed? Can you show me some plans?’
You have three different answers you could give him, depending on what you’ve done to prepare.
With little to no research and no idea about houses, you could give the ‘I have no idea’ answer:
‘I’ll just have a house. You know, the type with four walls and a roof please.’
Or if you have done a bit of preliminary research by looking at your neighbour’s place, you could give them the ‘I like what they have – but I don’t have my own plans’ answer:
‘I’ll have a house like my neighbours house: if it suits their needs, it’s probably going to suit most of mine.’
OR, if you are planned and prepared, you could have the ‘I know what I need and how I’m going to get it’ answer:
‘Here are detailed plans of the house. Its architecture, plumbing and structure have all been taken care of and are planned out. All you just need to follow the plans to arrive at a house that will exactly fit my various needs, budget and time constraints.’
The first two answers sound ridiculous. Who in their right mind would start building a house without a detailed, in-depth plan of what they want their end result to be? Now, back to ecommerce.
The complex interrelationships of the various applications and the chronological methodology for building an ecommerce solution shares various similarities to building a custom house – but lots of online retailers fail to see it this way. Imagine a retailer giving similar sorts of answers when a vendor asks about their specific requirements for their platform – it simply cannot be built well enough to meet their unique needs.
Your brand experience is unique, the way you see your online retailing is unique and understanding your unique ecommerce requirements is, by far, the most cost and time effective way to complete any sort of ecommerce project. Throughout this three part series, we will be exploring the three main opportunities which collecting ecommerce requirements can offers your business:
- Develop and begin your project with clearly defined goals for your new and future ecommerce solutions
- Cost and time efficiency
- Accountability for ecommerce project development
Develop and begin your project with clearly defined goals for your new and future ecommerce solutions
‘Begin with the end in mind’
A comprehensive list of requirements about the various functionalities that your final solution should provide gives a holistic image of your final platform.
Imagine trying to piece together a puzzle without understanding what the final solution is meant to look like – it becomes an unnecessarily hard task.
Do you know your non-functional performance requirements? What features should your PIM have? Is it REALLY necessary that your company’s CRM integrates to your email marketing?
These questions (and many, many more) are the types that you need to ask yourself before embarking on the road to software development, integration and testing (If you have no idea about any of this – send us a query (link here) so we can help you take a look).
A clearly defined set of requirements refreshes – or confirms – your understanding of your business’s ecommerce practices. Looking to the future, this knowledge allows you to recognise, down to a granular level, what your completed ecommerce solution should do and gives you your point of reference for when it is fully completed.
It creates, and then distils, tangible goals for your new software’s capability.
Consider this knowledge also as a form of safeguard – You can be sold anything if you don’t know what you need to buy.
In understanding what your final platform needs to DO, you are able to accurately decide on what is required to perform this function. Your business will be able to spend funds on not only WHAT is necessary, but on the correct cost and benefit provided by your application.
It has happened to all of us before, you go into a shop not known what you really need and end up leaving with a top-of-the-range product, when the $2, cheapy version would have suited your needs just fine. Knowing your requirements and what you need can help to save you from vendor’s sales team and their formidable charm.
… Part 2 coming soon.