The dynamic development of the e-commerce market has resulted in changes in the approach to sales, moving it to a greater extent to the Internet. A functional layout or an easy shopping path are a priority in attracting customers today. Some businesses have already chosen a sales platform and operate online, some are just taking this step, others are planning to change the platform. They all face the same challenge – implementing a new IT system.
It is a complex process that requires making many often difficult decisions and answering many questions, including the most important one – “How to prepare to build an e-commerce platform?”. It will be best to conduct a pre-implementation analysis.
From the article you will learn:
• What is pre-implementation analysis?
• Why should it not be overlooked?
• How long does the process take?
• What is included in the pre-implementation analysis?
What is pre-implementation analysis and why is it so important?
Changing e-commerce software is a bit like buying a flat. First, you consider the choice of location, area, estimate the cost of finishing or renovation, as well as the purchase of equipment and appliances, verify the technical and legal condition. Finally, you get down to the arrangement and either plan it yourself or hire an architect. Whichever option you choose, there’s a plan to follow, and it’s time to put it into action! All this to be able to enjoy a successful purchase for many years.
A trivial example? Perhaps, but to some extent it also applies to the e-commerce industry. After all, a good implementation plan is essential. Pre-implementation analysis, i.e. a process aimed at translating business assumptions into the capabilities of the selected software, will help in its creation. The result of the pre-implementation analysis is a plan with a description of all the work that needs to be done for the implementation to be successful. Skipping the pre-implementation analysis stage may result in exposure to additional costs that could have been avoided.
Pre-implementation analysis is the time to listen to the customer’s story. At this stage, the requirements for the project are defined.
Its main goal is to create an offer tailored to expectations, on the basis of which implementation costs are estimated.
The choice of the platform on which the online store will be placed plays a large role in the costs. It looks different in the case of dedicated solutions, slightly different in open source. Particular attention is paid to dedicated solutions, because the proprietary platform consists of functionalities tailored to the individual needs of the client, which is also usually associated with higher implementation costs. It is suitable for stores that still want to develop not only in Poland, but also abroad, plan to invest in a solution for years and want to tie their business future with a partner who will respond to their needs on an ongoing basis and provide safe and scalable development.
Is pre-implementation analysis always needed?
You probably won’t be surprised by our answer: it depends ? In Open-Source systems, ready-made extensions are usually installed and the client decides on specific functionalities. We successfully carry out this type of implementation based on Shopware. Our experience shows that in this case, just specifying the requirements is enough to start the project, which also shortens its duration.
However, we thoroughly analyze dedicated solutions that we implement on our proprietary Cartalo platform.
“The analysis usually takes 4 to 8 meetings with the client, depending on the size of the project. In practice, it takes 1-2 months. Meetings are generally held once a week. Two parties prepare for each meeting. We prepare the schedule based on the customer’s needs and expectations,” says Damian Sinior, Sales Director on the Polish market.
Below we share what the individual stages look like, which the client can expect when deciding to cooperate with us based on a dedicated solution.
Brief – we get to know the initial expectations regarding the project
Brief is a basic document that defines the client’s requirements for the project.
Based on the brief, we prepare a plan to conduct a pre-implementation analysis. At this stage, we get to know the expectations, which are an introduction for us to take further action. In the brief, we ask a few or a dozen basic questions that will allow us to prepare well for the meeting.
Pre-implementation analysis – sessions of meetings with the client
The number of sessions with the client depends primarily on the complexity of the project. Each meeting assumes a 4-hour analysis of individual elements of the implementation. The sessions are attended by our specialists and stakeholders acting on the client’s side. Usually these are operational people responsible for e-commerce processes.
The pre-implementation analysis on our side includes:
• Project Manager who controls the course of the session
• Business analysts
• Experienced developers
• UX specialists
• Sales representative
The first part of the session is devoted to the technical requirements of the platform. Thanks to them, we can identify points that need to be clarified at subsequent meetings.
It happens that we start work with a ready specification of the client’s requirements. In practice, we know that meetings opening the analysis are only an introduction to further clarification of individual issues. We focus our attention on these meeting sessions, during which we get to know the internal processes and examine the client’s area of activity.
During the next meetings, we define the architecture of IT systems and the dependencies between them. We also define the method of data exchange between the systems and the e-commerce platform. We talk to the client about integrations with external systems and examine their impact on the processes taking place in the platform.
The integrations we carry out include: payments, delivery, customer service, order fulfillment and after-sales service (returns and complaints) or marketing activities. So far, we have integrated platforms, e.g. with systems:
- Blue Media
- GTM, GA
Assumptions regarding the back-end layer open the analysis for the graphics and front of the platform.
The elements that we discuss during subsequent meeting sessions consist primarily of the UI and UX of the website. User experience responses are taken into account. Questions arise at this stage:
• Who are the users?
• Is there a person profile?
• What do the users themselves need?
• What are the main user journeys we should check?
The answers to these questions help us evaluate and then personalize the appearance of the platform to the client’s target group.
At meetings, the appearance is discussed:
• website home page
• category pages including tile and list views
• search result page
• product card page
• cart and shopping path
• registration view, customer account
Based on the collected assumptions, we prepare a list of views for the client to be designed as part of the platform implementation.
The end of the stage of talks with the client marks the next meetings, where we discuss integrations and processes modeled by us, including:
• contractor management
• order flow
• adding a product (including: product information, categories, photos)
• pricing and discount policy
• implementation of the return or complaint
• customer-related processes (including: registration, data exchange with ERP)
The meeting sessions end with the specification and presentation of the product. On their basis, we determine the possible start and end date of the project. The client receives a document from us with the valuation of the project implementation.
Implementation valuation – what costs does it include?
The full implementation price is the result of our pre-implementation analysis.
The cost includes UX activities, graphic design, front-end work, back-end work, tests, project management, training in the use of the tool, as well as data migration and website launch. For integration with external systems, we use Time&Material settlements. For the rest of the work, we use the Fixed Price approach.
If the client agrees with the assumptions of the project, we proceed to implementation. The process is transferred to the Customer Service Department, where a dedicated Project Manager starts work on the implementation.
Why is it worth conducting a pre-implementation analysis?
Pre-implementation analysis has a positive impact on the subsequent course of design work.
This is the stage in which the client defines priorities and elements to be implemented in subsequent phases of cooperation.
Pre-implementation analysis resembles a win-win strategy. The client sees that he has a real impact on the project, and we have deep knowledge of the technical requirements of the platform.
A complete set of factual information allows you to prepare an optimal offer and a realistic schedule, which allows you to publish the website on the agreed date. Professional approach and cooperation with the client allow us to avoid misunderstandings at every stage of the project in the future. When implementing dedicated e-commerce platforms, pre-implementation analysis is a basic element before starting each project.
Threats that may arise due to lack of analysis in an e-commerce project
These types of threats may or may not occur. The lack of pre-implementation analysis does not eliminate the risk, and even more so the negative effects that will arise as a result of incorrect implementation. On the other hand, not specifying customer needs at an early stage may result in mismatched usability solutions. The client should have time to choose the solution he considers optimal. On the other hand, an imprecise scope of the project will extend the overall working time and may generate unplanned costs. There is also a high risk of omitting important people in the implementation of the project.
The lack of pre-implementation analysis directly affects the work of specialists involved in the project.
“The pre-implementation analysis is aimed at determining the exact scope of implementation works, priorities and business assumptions of the client. A very precise determination of the scope of work is extremely important, because on the basis of these arrangements, the works to be carried out during the implementation are valued – an offer for the client is created, and the entire implementation plan is based on a schedule, which in turn is an appendix to the contract binding both parties.
In order to achieve the client’s goals, we need to know the business assumptions that will give a broader picture of the requirements and help us decide on the right solutions and plan them. Setting priorities – the client should specify what he thinks can, should, or must be included in the project. Thanks to this, we are able to locate threats before the start of work.
The analysis allows us to create an implementation plan that we can control, it gives clarity to both sides of the arrangements, scope of work and implementation time – thanks to this, we know what we have to implement, and the client knows what he will get and how much he will pay; allows us to rule out any threats before starting the implementation.” – says Marta Sukiennik, Project Manager.