Website Evaluation Before All Else

Website Evaluation – I recently worked with a client on a project regarding their desire to replace their ecommerce platform (ECP). When asked why they wanted a new platform, their reasoning was based on “it’s time”. They felt their current website was not providing the functionality they were looking for and, since it was several years old, it was no longer provide what they wanted from their website.

As everyone who has been through it knows, replacing a website platform is not only a monumental task but can be very expensive, adds pressure to an organization, and creates additional work on top of the day-to-day tasks of managing the business. Once we began discussing this particular client’s needs and why they wanted to replace their ECP, it became apparent they had not discussed the shortcomings of their current ecommerce platform with their current provider. Rather than going down the path of looking for a replacement, FitForCommerce suggested that a website evaluation  be conducted to identify the gaps of the current site and compare those to what best practices.

A website evaluation provides the client with a quick evaluation of their site, identifying the shortcomings of the existing areas (such as checkout), suggestions on how to improve the particular area reviewed and examples of what FitForCommerce would consider a better solution. The cost of the evaluation is considerably less than replacing the ecommerce platform. The suggested changes can then be taken to the existing ecommerce platform provider to identify which of those suggested enhancements can be done by the provider, which would be easy “fixes”, and which would require additional development, including the cost and time frame to implement those changes. Essentially, it’s similar to taking your car to a mechanic and getting a tune up, replacing some parts, paying for labor, but not having to purchase a new car.

One might wonder what should be reviewed during a site evaluation. Well, it’s everything from the time the homepage appears on the screen to the last page at checkout. As the seller of goods and services, you need to approach the site evaluation from your perspective but, more importantly, from the consumers’ point of view. How easy is it to shop your site? Have you conducted a focus group session to identify what they would like, what’s missing, not working well, etc.? Through focus groups and having FitForCommerce conduct a website evaluation, you will be armed with a roadmap of improvements which will enable your organization to have a better understanding of what changes should be considered and which  can be made with the existing ecommerce platform. Those changes should improve and/or increase shopability, sales, AOV, conversion, repeat visits, site performance, and customer satisfaction, and save your organization the expense and additional work of implementing a new ECP.  A site evaluation will enable you  to get more life out of your investment before taking the plunge and purchasing a new ECP.

There are numerous areas to consider when conducting a site evaluation. Besides checkout, which was mentioned earlier, navigation, homepage, site search are some of the areas FitForCommerce would assess. FitForCommerce has done extensive work in this area and has found that identifying the issue(s), providing positive feature(s), and providing examples of best practices and recommendations to the client, allows them take action and get results immediately.

One last thing to note is, doing your own site evaluation is very difficult since it is much harder to be objective and identify the opportunities. Having a third party evaluate your site provides unbiased suggestions that you may not have considered or even thought of.  In many situations, you’d be surprised to find out that areas you thought were fine could use significant improvement. The client I mentioned earlier was able to make many of the suggested changes within a few weeks – many without any additional cost – and immediately began to see improvement. So, before you start looking for a new ECP, talk to us about conducting a website evaluation!

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FitForCommerce will be at Shop.org Merchandising Workshop, July 20-22.

Come visit us at booth 3, participate in a roundtable led by our CEO, Bernardine Wu, and/or sign-up for a free Doctors Is In: 1 on 1 Web Critique.

Contact us to schedule a meeting at #merch15 !

Written by: Walt Blum, Sr. Consultant


3 Hot Tips:

Stay engaged: Don’t wait for sales to flatten out or abandonment rate to increase. Have the site evaluated every year by an outside company, someone with a different set of eyes. Consider it a tune up and maintenance to get the most out of your engine.

Customer input: User groups or focus groups are important in ensuring you are meeting the expectations of your customer base. Before implementing changes, test your ideas with this group and get their feedback.

Keep reaching: Look at other sites and see what the competition is doing. Take a step back and focus on your overall goals, but be flexible enough to meet the demands of your customers.

 

Our Experiences at IRCE 2015

It’s been a week since we got back from IRCE in Chicago and most of us are still digesting all the impressions and insights we gleaned from the sessions and in the exhibition hall. This year’s conference didn’t disappoint. IRCE had record attendance, and, for FitForCommerce, that meant that we were busier than ever hosting the Technology Workshop, managing the Retailer Help Desk and providing guidance at our booth.

The Technology Workshop

For the sixth year in a row, we were honored to host the popular Technology Workshop. For those of you who attended, or have attended in the past, you’ll know that the Technology Workshop is not your typical workshop, but rather a full day of sessions and panel discussions that draws hundreds of attendees.

This year, the agenda focused on topics such as assessing your omnichannel tech stack, evaluating whether ecommerce replatforming is right for you, achieving the customer single view holy grail and new technology innovations.

FitForCommerce was joined by a great lineup of speakers from Steve Madden, Walgreen, Chefs’ Warehouse, J.Jill, Plushbeds, HSN, Lowe’s, Abe’s Market, Bosch, Target, Dell, Wayfair and W.W. Grainger.

From the high-energy and entertaining presentation by Michael Hughes from Plushbeds who drew the parallel of evaluating and selecting an integration partner to the art of dating to the insightful panel on new innovations that closed out the day, attendees walked away with real-life insights, inspiration and actionable advice on the main topics that many encounter on a daily basis.

Here are some of our favorite sound bites

“Selecting and implementing new platforms requires hard work and lots of cocktails” – Karen Etzkorn, Chief Information Officer, HSN

“60% of ecommerce marriages end in a costly divorce” – Bernardine Wu, CEO FitForCommerce

“Know your story, know your strategy and share it” – Michele Parzianello, VP ecommerce, J.Jill

“When thinking about replatforming, prepare them, don’t scare them” –  Steve Jones, VP and Senior Consultant, FitForCommerce

“Keeping up with technology may not be as fun as keeping up with the Kardashians, but is it necessary” – Steve Jones

“Mobile is the front door to Target” – Alan Wizeman, VP Product, Target.com Mobile

“What will set you apart in global expansion is personalization” – John Molamphy, Executive Director, Buyer Experience, Dell

“You don’t know what you don’t know. That’s why the right partner is so important. What do the exes say? Get references and ask the right questions” – Michael Hughes, CEO, Plushbeds

“Capturing insights from every click drives relevancy and conversions” – Kimberley Grayson, Chief Revenue Officer, Abe’s Market

“Our mantra is: test, listen, analyze, iterate” – John Kinsella, VP, Experience Architecture, Lowe’s

“Organizational change is the foundation of success” – Sonesh Shah, Director Ecommerce, Bosch

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At the Help Desk and the Exhibit Hall

From sessions to the exhibit floor, we’re always excited to chat with attendees as well as the many technology providers that grace the exhibit hall. Navigating the exhibit floor can be daunting – so many insights, so many technologies, so little time.  And by the end of the day your head is buzzing and your feet are numb.  At the Help Desk, our job is to help make the conference experience a little bit easier by learning what attendees are struggling with and what technologies they are looking for. This year we provided 1000s of category maps, best practices and key questions to ask providers. We also had many 1:1 consultations where we were able to learn more about specific pain points and share our expertise.

As in previous years, retailers and brands were at IRCE for many different reasons, however, there were a few hot topics that stood out:

  • Personalization: Making the shopping experience more relevant to the individual shopper across all channels
  • Global: US retailers and brands expanding to new international markets and non-US retailers and brands entering the US market
  • Marketplaces: Leveraging marketplaces to reach new customers – specifically when entering new international markets
  • Brands going direct: Dealing with the organizational challenges, channel conflicts, marketing and supporting technologies of launching direct-to-consumer channels

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We hope you walked away from IRCE re-energized, inspired and ready to tackle the next phase of your business. If you still have burning questions or didn’t find what you were looking for, be sure to check out the FitForCommerce resource library to download best practices, whitepapers, and our annual report on Personalization.

 To learn more about how we can help you, contact us!

Written by: Yanna Sigenlaub, VP Marketing