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Checklist: How to make your digital experience project successful
If you search online for the term “customer experience”, you’ll find about 3,630,000,000 results in 0.75 seconds. That’s 3.6 billion results. This number clearly illustrates how much focus companies are now putting on the customer experience.
Since Covid-19 has throttled public life to a certain extent, the customer experience is increasingly taking place in the digital space. All of a sudden, the most important touchpoint to a customer is no longer the salesperson, but the online store. And this touchpoint must be continuously optimized.
To be able to react more quickly to changes in the market and new customer demands, companies are breaking up their monolithic IT systems on a grand scale. Instead, they’re starting to rely on an ecosystem of technologies based on microservices. They’re thinking API first, using cloud-based Software-as-a-Services, and going headless.
But what does it take to make your digital experience project successful?
How to make your digital experience project successful
When building the experience on top of a tech stack, brands and merchants need to be aware that they’re going to touch the heart of their business.
The digital storefront is the main channel through which businesses communicate with and connect to their customers. It’s their face to the customer. Making changes to this face – all the while keeping the business running – requires a well-thought-through and meticulously planned project management and comprehensive risk mitigation strategy. After all, a new eCommerce architecture has to be an enabler for bigger business success and smoother operations, instead of a roadblock to success.
We’ve gathered the key aspects you should tick off your project management list to make sure you’re setting yourself and your teams up for success. Some of them will seem to be common sense. But the more complex your project, the more important it is to ensure that its foundations are rock-solid. So, mind the obvious. It’s usually where projects start to go wrong.
Map out how your frontend contributes to your company’s strategic goals, and what the biggest value to the business is.
Implementing a Frontend-as-a-Service isn’t a goal in itself. Any part of your eCommerce tech stack needs to provide a clear benefit to the business and the teams, and contribute not only to your business success but also to improving your business operations.
For each solution you’re thinking of integrating, be sure to map out exactly where the business value lies, and how it will contribute to achieving your company’s and teams’ strategic goals.
Map project and solution requirements and the development process thoroughly.
Planning your project is a big part of the process and should never be underestimated or rushed. By mapping your project requirements, solutions, and development process out in detail, you can estimate the timelines you’ll be working with more realistically – and forego making promises or plans you won’t be able to meet.
Find, map, and vet potential Frontend-as-a-Service platform providers.
If you’re going for a Frontend-as-a-Service, you want to make sure to choose the right solution for your business. Usually, the decision will be driven as part of an overall re-platforming project instead of as a standalone process. It will be based on the business value and contribution to strategic company goals that you mapped out at the start. So plan enough time to find, map, and vet potential solution providers that meet your business needs.
Mind the APIs!
Your Frontend-as-a-Service communicates with other components of your architecture through APIs. Therefore, APIs are the lifelines of your set-up. Make sure you vet all potential vendors’ APIs thoroughly. Finding out that an API doesn’t perform as you were expecting can be a very costly learning process.
Engage your entire team and your vendors early in the project planning phase.
Joint planning creates commitment and buy-in, so the more, the merrier. By giving your team and vendors the chance to validate or give feedback on your estimates, you’ll make your planning more solid, and create commitment from all stakeholders in the process.
Build a roadmap for “now,” “next,” and “later.”
Build a clear picture of how your Frontend-as-a-Service will work together with other components of your tech stack, and a roadmap for your short-term, mid-term, and long-term frontend development. What needs to be integrated for a Minimum Lovable Product (MLP) to be able to go live, and which functionalities can be realized afterward? Which functionalities do different Frontend-as-a-Service solutions have to offer, and which features would you still need or want to build yourself?
Stay flexible, especially when there are set-backs.
Once you get started, you’ll usually start to identify challenges you weren’t aware of and will need fixing. Adapt your planning accordingly and continuously communicate any changes, and the reasons behind them, to all stakeholders.
Continue regular joint planning sessions.
The success of developing a new eCommerce tech stack will largely depend on your teams’ commitment and enthusiasm. Make sure to keep up the joint planning sessions, it’ll carry the team a long way. We propose a weekly update meeting in which you address specific issues and set the focus for the week ahead.
Create a clear structure between project work and daily tasks.
If your project team also still has operational tasks on the side, make sure you clearly establish how much time they should spend on daily operational tasks and how much time they should spend working on the new tech stack per week.
Minimizing business disruption.
As we said earlier, you’re changing your face to the customer when you implement a new digital storefront. Make sure to have a solid plan in place on how you can operate your legacy frontend and your future Frontend-as-a-Service in parallel to ensure business continuity.
Implement, test, learn.
Once the first country version of your digital storefront is in place, make a point to capture all your learnings so you can apply them when you launch a new digital country or brand shop later on.
Plan time for onboarding and training of the new technologies.
No technical solution is worth a dime if people don’t know how to work with them. Training your marketing teams to work with the new solutions is a crucial part of your implementation process and can’t be taken lightly. Make enough time for training sessions and Q&As, and check if you can involve your vendors in that effort. In the end, you all have the same goal: Your Frontend-as-a-Service needs to empower your business to become faster, more innovative, and more successful.
Find continuous improvement cycles.
Once you’ve gone live with the first MLP of your digital storefront based on your Frontend-as-a-Service, take the time to congratulate yourself and the team. Then start work on developing missing features and functionalities, you should always be continuously improving your product. From MLP to full-fledged storefront is a long way, and you want to build a roadmap that details out which steps you will take and when.
Find out what the business needs.
Incorporate the feedback from your business teams, too. Once operational, your marketing and business teams will be able to provide you with valuable insights and ideas on what needs to be fixed, or what could be improved. Establish a process for them to communicate these ideas into your frontend development teams so they can evaluate and incorporate this input into the roadmap.
Do you want to learn more?
Download the full eBook on how to build a frontend.
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