Why Quick Launches Are So Crucial

Having been in ecommerce for too many years, I have consistently seen vendor solutions take excessively long to deploy. It always baffled me, because by the time some of these solutions finally go live (from 6 months up to a year) business climates have changed, whole seasons of sales opportunities have passed, and often times the client team that started on the project has moved into new roles. Even with the advent of cloud solutions, many vendors still have solutions that take way too long to have any real business impact (assuming they even do).

While these solutions are waiting to be launched, not only are retailers missing opportunities to gain new customers and revenue, more often than not their competition is winning over that customer.

At this point, the brand is down two strokes. And then, when you think about the seasonality of most of eCommerce, a 6 month launch might as well be a full year as retailers have likely eclipsed high revenue periods and are now waiting for the next big event.

Whenever possible, it is in a retailer’s best interest to ensure that they take deployment time into consideration when selecting a vendor. This is certainly not the only criteria or even the most important, but unfortunately it is often left out of consideration.

It’s important to remember that sooner retailers can start learning consumer behavior on the site, the sooner they can achieve a competitive advantage. This is big motivation that summarizes the ability to identify a customer, collect data, and continuously learn about their needs to improve the experience. The faster retailers can do this, the better. When thinking about the distinct benefits of a rapid deployment, let’s review the traditional challenges and powerful impact on retailers.

Launch and Learn

In today’s highly competitive retailer and ecommerce environment, a retailer can learn more from being live (even when exposing just a portion of their traffic) than they can by waiting for something to go live. Each day a solution isn’t live is a lost opportunity to gather insight about your shoppers and your business. That priceless intel can help drive course corrections, pull revenue forward and serve as a competitive advantage. Also keep in mind those solutions that take 6 months to go live also need to go through adjustments and tweaks to be effective, so the finish line is even further than you think.  A solution that deploys more quickly provides greater intelligence that you can put to work sooner, and an accelerated ROI with higher revenue so you can start getting ahead of your competition.

Tech Freeze Buster

We all have been impacted by the holiday season tech freeze. It is a reality of doing business online (and exists for a damn good reason). The challenge is that the tech freeze essentially eliminates 3 months of the year for implementing ecommerce solutions. This no fly zone can easily take a 3 – 6 month implementation and push it into a 6 – 9 month project as well as push out the ROI and lose the opportunity to impact the most lucrative time of the year. A solution that can launch in a shorter window is more likely to be launched before the freeze and adds fuel to the holidays results. For smart cloud-based solutions that leverage beacons, it can also extend the freeze in an interesting way. You can insert the tag prior to the freeze and implement the rest of the solution during the freeze, providing a longer window to launch those much needed holiday-impacting solutions.

Shorter Product Lifecycles = Time is of the Essence

In the world of Fast Fashion, product lifecycles are short and extended launches are especially damaging. Retailers are moving at a breakneck pace to keep up with industry multi-season and event based sales, along with a customer expectation that practically every time they return to the site, there will be new merchandise.

With conversion entirely dependent on consumer interest, the retailer’s ability to intelligently adapt the onsite experience to the individual is critical to success. In absence of a live solution to this, consumers won’t find what they need, will be met with an irrelevant experience, and will simply go to a competitor site that offers similar goods that they can more easily find. The longer it takes for you to launch an individual shopper focused solution, the more customers are lost, the more revenue is left on the table, and the timeline for ROI suffers.

Retailers simply can’t afford to compromise on time to market for a solution. A balance should be struck between the speed of implementation, and the retailer’s investment. Here are nine tips to use when evaluating solutions and ensuring a faster deployment is part of the package:

9 Tips to Ensure Faster Deployments

  1. Phased implementation, start learning the behavior immediately
  2. Have cloud services to carry larger load
  3. Customizable, configurable cloud components
  4. Reuse what is already in place and build on it (product feeds)
  5. Get away from the concept of “Big Launch” and away from “all or nothing”
  6. With more frequent, smaller launches, deliver incremental functionalities
  7. Quick launches means everything has to be scalable
  8. Repeatable processes, requirements gathering
  9. Don’t compromise governance, no short cuts

”You may delay, but time will not.” –Benjamin Franklin

Rajiv Katira

Rajiv is the VP of Customer Success and Operations at Reflektion. He’s an analytics driven, revenue focused leader who has helped our clients achieve significant results. Before joining Reflektion, Rajiv was the VP of eCommerce Solutions at GSI Commerce (now part of eBay). He was also a director of eCommerce sales at Intel. He has his MS in Industrial Engineering from Oklahoma State University.