Blog post

Retail Digitalization: 4 Strategies to Avoid Failures with Online Platforms

eCommerce platform should be both an answer to customers’ demands for high-quality services and a way for businesses to increase profits

January 27, 2020

5 mins read

This year is expected to be highly successful for eCommerce: the estimated total value of retail sales will reach $3.4 trillion globally in 2020. As a highly competitive and customer-oriented sector, retail has to stay relevant and meet demands for the best user experience. Mobile applications have to be focused on value to keep the attention of customers.

With the number of eCommerce platforms and solutions on the market, retailers have quite a choice of software vendors with expertise in keeping brands in front of customers’ eyes. Intellias recommends focusing on these four strategies for developing eCommerce systems.

Retail Digitalization: 4 Strategies to Avoid Failures with Online Platforms

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1. Provide value of an eCommerce platform instead of just functionality

When thinking about developing a new feature or redesigning your eCommerce platform, keep in mind the real value your customers will get from this. Being on top of the latest technology and overcoming your competitors with a diversity of features are decent goals. Still, you should strive to meet your customers’ expectations first.

The major problem is that when developing eCommerce systems, companies often focus on technology while overlooking people. A desire to disrupt may steal the spotlight from product–market fit. As a result, an eCommerce platform may be packed with cool but inefficient features that cost a ton to develop yet lack practical value.

When outsourcing the development of an eCommerce platform, the first step for a CIO is to filter out companies developing eCommerce systems that offer high-tech features just because they’re cool and instead choose companies that build functionality based on detailed market.

2. Test all assumptions of retail digitalization

Often, CIOs consider product–market fit as a strategy for startups, but validating value is critical in designing a mobile commerce application and custom eCommerce platform. It will help you to painlessly find out whether new features or a totally new solution will increase revenue and be suitable for scaling.

Product–market fit pyramid
Retail Digitalization: 4 Strategies to Avoid Failures with Online Platforms
Source: Mind the Product

Does your eCommerce platform meet a market demand? Before you start investing in new functionality or in eCommerce platform for retail digital transformation from the ground up, test your ideas in the field.

Here’s a quick checklist for validating your ideas:

  1. Define the problem and the customer.
  2. Find out whether your way of solving the problem is innovative or better than existing solutions.
  3. Check if your idea is viable in the real world. Talk to potential customers, study competitors’ performance, etc.
  4. Create several hypotheses as a result of idea validation. Examples: A mobile eCommerce app will be more suitable for people with small children. Voice search is appreciated by drivers.
  5. Create a simple and clear value proposition. Why is your solution better than your competitors’? How can a customer benefit from it?
  6. Build an MVP based on your hypotheses. Test it in the field using:
    • interviews
    • A/B testing
    • focus groups
    • analytical marketing tools
  7. Process your feedback and draw conclusions.

Companies with experience providing retail software development services will study the pain points of your business before turning to idea validation. Only after identifying your pain points will they offer possible solutions and start testing hypotheses. Top software providers will have the expertise to tackle your challenges in the most efficient way using IoT devices, machine learning algorithms, data analytics, and cloud computing.

3. Focus on delivery capabilities within retail digitalization

Retail digital transformation is moving from a buzzword to the primary strategy for the world’s top retailers. Those who use the latest tech rule the competition. AI and chatbots, recommendation engines, sales forecasting, and cybersecurity are becoming vital parts of developing eCommerce systems. Users want tailored offerings and personalized approaches. The days when we had to wait in lines have long passed. Time to market plays a critical role for retailers, and retail development companies like Intellias serve as industry experts, providing not only development services but knowledge of particular domains.

eCommerce companies should check the delivery capabilities of a software provider they plan on partnering with. Here’s what you need to look for:

  • Ability to build cloud infrastructure
  • Development with scalability in mind
  • Focus on cybersecurity
  • Ability to integrate AI for personalization and automation (behavior analysis, chatbots, personalized offerings, etc.)
  • Custom data analytics tools
  • Convenient and secure payment processing solutions

Retailers should look for consultants and vendors who have extensive experience in developing eCommerce systems and the ability to meet the market demand for high-tech customer-centered digital platforms.

4. Stay agile

As the RetailTech industry grows faster than a lot of others, the development of a custom eCommerce platform and the processes of designing mobile commerce applications are transforming to fit the pace of growth. An agile approach is extremely helpful for those who want to get to the working version of a product and collect users’ feedback as soon as possible. A software development partner in building an eCommerce platform that understands your company’s culture and shares similar values will guide you to the market quickly.

Agile methodology in eCommerce
Retail Digitalization: 4 Strategies to Avoid Failures with Online Platforms
Source: Adapty

Using an agile methodology for both software development and project management turns out to be quite profitable for retail businesses. As a result of agile software development, you’ll get:

  • a working version fast due to streamlined production
  • precise market analysis based on user feedback, not assumptions
  • a high-quality product thanks to small iterations, flexible development, and constant testing
  • happy customers, as their feedback is put into action as soon as possible

An agile approach to building a custom eCommerce platform has its benefits in capable hands. Note that with an agile approach, you won’t have a defined list of features for the end version of your platform right away. You’ll have to wait for the first feedback from users. So it’s quite hard to predict the final cost of development. Still, you’ll get a working version of your product with some core features fast and for the agreed price, and then you can decide what else you should add based on customers’ reviews.

Summing up

Digitalization takes software development of eCommerce applications to the next level, becoming not just a buzzword but a real measure of competitiveness. But how can you digitalize an eCommerce business without falling into a pit of debt? Proper strategizing is the first step. Retailers have to partner with software vendors that can offer not only development but also strong expertise and industry knowledge.

In designing eCommerce applications, CIOs should strive for high-quality, high-value solutions that cater to their customers’ needs and are flexible enough to react to market changes. Software providers like Intellias can develop innovative custom solutions based on product–market fit, a company’s capabilities, and requirements and user feedback. To find out more about our eCommerce expertise, schedule a call with one of our experts.

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