Evolution and Adaptation in eCommerce

“It’s How We’ve Always Done It”

– The detrimental key phrase of an evolutionary society

This is one of the phrases I fear the most when starting a new job… or even worse, at a job I’ve been working at for a long while. It’s so easy for people to say, but much like any common phrase, the implications that come as a result of its use are overlooked, and overlooked far too eagerly. When people say it, it comes from a place of fear and insecurity. The unexplored gets passed on because it requires time to investigate it in depth enough to deem it worthy. Who’s got the time for that? Not enough people, that’s for sure.

The First Step is Denial

As I said before, this comment is thrown about because time has already been invested in doing something in a particular way and no one wants to commit the time, money, or resources to improving upon it or, even more frightening, finding a new path entirely. On top of this, trying to improve complex systems like Magento from the outside while seamlessly integrating new systems is a daunting task.

Understandably, it’s difficult to admit that your tried and true way of doing things is either just outdated, or even worse, it never really worked to begin with. On the same token, though, it’s one of the best ways to get motivated to move forward and improve.

Evolution and Adaptation in eCommerce

As a Front-End Developer, it’s my goal to keep people engaged with the experience they’re presented with when on the web. In eCommerce, it’s an even bigger task than just making things pretty and engaging. As new technologies come to light, I’m effectively given the tools to engage with your customers in new and exciting ways. I’m able to create an environment that’s even more comfortable and intuitive for them. The evolution of eCommerce and these systems allows me to get them what they want faster and better than ever before. No one likes standing in line, and the same holds true for standing online. That extra two and a half seconds it takes to load up the next page because of outdated systems and technologies is the difference between a purchase and a drop off.

More than likely, ‘the way it’s always been done’ used to save time and/or find efficiencies during the development phase, but the times, they do change. When I talk to people about web development, I’m constantly throwing out the words evolution and adaptation. These words are hugely relevant to this industry given the pace at which technologies go through changes, for better or worse. So yes, maybe the way you’ve been doing it has saved you a lot of time in the past, but that’s probably not the case anymore. In the time you’ve spent reading this far (thanks, by the way), the web has changed, your clients have changed, and you, yourself, have changed. Shouldn’t that be an indicator that it’s time for the way you do things to change as well?

Make A Stand

If you’re met with this phrase, it’s likely because a lot of time and money (those fabled beasts of business) have been invested to get the processes to the point they’re at. With that in mind, you’ll never beat down the naysayers by saying ‘but times have changed!’ Modifying or rebuilding process from scratch is a big deal and it’s not to be entered into lightly. Careful analysis of the situation and the process is required before getting up and making the claim that everything has gone horribly, horribly awry. If you truly believe there’s a better way of doing something, take some of your own time (believe me, you’ll get it back in the end) to put together some comprehensive reasoning behind why it might be best to start anew or why you, as a group, need to begin looking in a new direction. When doing this, it’s important to remember who your customers are and what they want. Reach out to them and get some thoughts and ideas from the community. It’ll shed some much needed light on what you can do to improve things for them.

The Lean Startup

It’s only been a year since I read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, but it’s since changed the way I approach the way I do business. One of the prominent philosophies I took from this book is that there is no failure too large or too small to learn from. Given that, provided you’ve learned how to learn, the only true failure you can suffer from is the failure to learn. Thomas Wayne once said to his son Bruce, ‘And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.’ And now we have Batman. ‘Nuff said.

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Batman Begins, Thomas Wayne

Photo Credit

Further to this point, it’s not enough to just learn from the times it’s impossible to ignore that you’ve failed. You must also constantly be reviewing yourself and asking yourself if what you’re doing is still the best way of doing it. From there you can ask yourself a few questions:

  • Can we do better by just changing direction a little bit?
  • What were we actually hoping to achieve by doing things this way?
  • Do we need to go back to Point A before we can ever hope to reach Point B?

Figuring out these things is key to moving forward productively. If you don’t answer these questions, you’re going to wind up at the dreaded Point C, and really, no one ever wants to wind up there.

Step 3: Profit!

Investing the extra time and money to ideate around and prototype with new technologies can result in some exciting discoveries. Making the UX faster and slicker will allow your customers to navigate around your site more smoothly. Improving product relationship logic can immediately show people yet more things they never thought they’d need. Utilizing systems that make checkouts faster can get people their purchases faster than before and save them time. When you make the commitment to experimentation, you’re making a commitment to your customers that will result in a stronger relationship, keeping them coming back for more.

Where To Begin

If you’re not sure where to start, start at the end! Ask yourself what your desired end result is. Is it increased speed? More relevant related topics? Simplification of certain aspects of your site? Talk to us about what you want and need for your site. We’d love to open up the conversation and help you evolve your customer’s shopping experience.