Better, Faster, Stronger eCommerce with Digital Roadmaps

Ever have someone ask you “What’s new and exciting that we should look at”?

If you are in any kind of advisory, mentorship or client/vendor relationship then the answer to the above questions is YES. You probably hear this quite a bit. My response is usually “Well, it’s more about what’s new to you, not new in a broad-market way.”

That’s the key isn’t it? What’s new to you?

If you try and follow digital’s proverbial “bouncing ball” you are more than likely going to go a little crazy. There’s such a vast amount of change happening it would consume even the best and brightest to try and keep up with all of it.

Which brings me to a conversation I was having last week with one of our customers. We were talking about staying ahead of the competition through the adoption of the latest and greatest.

I have this conversation…a lot. It’s a fairly reasonable thought process. All of us will inevitably have a peak at what our competition is doing at some point, even if we try and find it.

Related: 4 Essential eCommerce Strategies for Manufacturers and Distributors

Focus on What’s New To Your Business

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The problem with looking at your competition is that you are only ever seeing what is happening on the surface. It’s dangerous to take anything at face value, let alone make critical business roadmap decisions using surface information alone.

I’m not saying don’t put effort into trying new technologies, strategies, and tactics. Quite contrary actually. I’m a huge proponent of success through continuous testing of new ideas.

What I’m saying is focus on what’s new…but focus on what’s new to your business. Not what’s new to someone else.

If you haven’t even rolled out the basics yet (and be honest, most haven’t), then why are you looking to the latest shiny technology as your next move?

Related: How to Calculate Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – ebook

Make Informed Decisions for Your Business

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Going back to the customer that sparked this blog post. We were talking about on-site customer segmentation and content personalization. They read a white paper that said this was one of the key tactics used by large merchants scaling large digital retail businesses. While this might be true, in this particular customer’s case they didn’t even have a centralized CRM. We didn’t know enough about any one customer to even start the discussion of segmentation.

So in this case, CRM and a 360 degree view of the customer was actually what was new. This went on the roadmap ahead of on-site segmentation as it had wider reaching benefits than just their site (a single channel). Knowing your customer can fundamentally change how you communicate with them on every channel, not just your online store.

I’m guilty of this in our business as well. It’s quite common actually. I see some creative concept that one of my competitors is using and I inevitably get a little jealous and think “me too!”. I’m also quite lucky in that we have a lot of smart people here at Demac Media and they talk me back from the ledge, usually by going focusing on our own roadmap and seeing where this cool new thing fits.

Related: Next Practices vs. Best Practices – Winning in Retail

Why Digital Roadmaps are So Important

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We talk about roadmap planning a lot here. I think it might be the word we use so much that we kind of poke a bit of fun at it now (like you would any term that becomes buzzy sounding). We can’t stop using it because the concept is just so damn important. If you aren’t constantly working on and against a roadmap, what are you making decisions based on?

The scary thing is, I meet a new prospective customer almost weekly that has never even gone through the exercise of building a digital roadmap. They have no idea how things should integrate with their bricks business, all they know is that they want “omni-channel” or whatever new buzz-word has taken over our conferences and media.

If you’ve made it this far and want something to take away from reading this post let it be these 3 points:

1. Build a roadmap before making any decisions.
2. Know that it will change frequently.
3. When something new crosses your desk/screen, look at where it fits in the roadmap.

Related: The Power of CRM for B2C in eCommerce and Retail