There’s no time like the present to launch a new direct-to-consumer (DTC) E-commerce site on Shopify Plus. Site launches and re-platforming are moving to the top of many retailers’ to-do lists as more consumers are suddenly shopping online due to COVID-19 and shelter-in-place orders. An efficient new site can be a smart investment to be able to continue serving your (previously offline) customers. If you already have an E-commerce website, migrating to a more powerful platform like Shopify Plus will reduce or eliminate ongoing costs to maintain and upgrade, and better performance and customer experience will help convert more consumers to purchase.
In these difficult times, how do you launch or migrate your site to a new platform as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible? Our strategy to get superior E-commerce sites up and running quickly is an MVP, or “minimum viable product” approach. This entails determining what are the essential features needed for launch and developing a plan to hit those goals within a relatively short time frame.
MVP doesn’t mean your site will never have all the bells and whistles you want. It’s just a very effective way to keep your team focused on what’s most important now: launching a great site as quickly as possible. Following are some tips to help you put together a successful MVP plan and speed up the launch of your new E-commerce site.
1. Determine what’s “mission critical”
What may have been important for your new E-commerce site before COVID-19 may not be so critical now. Look through this new lens to determine what elements of your site will make the most impact on your business and for customers, and what you can come back to and add later. You can prioritize by mapping each element of your site back to a specific business need. Shipment tracking? Got to have it: customers are worried they won’t get their orders. Adding product photos and videos? Keep it: customers can’t see products in-store; not having these is a barrier to purchase. Store locator? Maybe not, since stores are closed. You get it. If it doesn’t support an immediate business need, table it for later.
2. Streamline migration
Site migration takes time and you can’t really speed things up by throwing more people at it. It would be like asking 25 people to be hands-on making one sandwich at the same time: a total mess. You can shave off some time by being choosy about which data you migrate now – for example, maybe you don’t need to import the last six months of historical order data for launch. Also, using a smaller, dedicated team will help make the migration go as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Having too many people involved with migration can result in a hodgepodge of pieces, create confusion, and cause issues with the speed and performance of the site later on.
3. Phase it out
You can still have it all – just not all at once. Breaking up your project to prioritize core functionality like site flow, UX on product pages, mobile optimization and checkout ensures your end product will be high quality. This gives you a solid foundation to build on in subsequent phases -- such as adding lifestyle content and personalization. In addition to helping you speed time to launch, another significant benefit of an MVP approach is that with minimal spend, you’ll have a site that enables you to collect and analyze user data to help guide what site improvements and changes you should make next.
4. Shift your marketing & communications approach
Upselling, cross-selling, gift cards… now might not be the time to push recommendations and reviews, even though you may be looking for ways to generate more revenue. Instead, focus on how you can help or bring value to your customers right now. If you have a product or service that would be useful for customers during this time, be sure to let them know! Ensure your website can showcase a clear and compelling promotion and call-to-action.
Focusing on the customer goes a long way towards building loyalty, and ultimately, customer long-term value (CLTV). Grateful customers will remember how you supported them during the pandemic. When this is over, what do you want customers and employees to remember about your brand?
Also, good communication is key, especially if customers are counting on you to deliver. Let them know you care by ensuring order confirmations are clear and that customers can track when their package will arrive – and notify them if it’s delayed.
5. User experience
User experience is key to your competitive advantage. An MVP approach is great in that it takes you off autopilot of simply transferring everything from your old site to the new – you don’t have time. Instead, consider if existing UX features and the UX improvements you want directly improve the purchase experience. And turn it around and look at it another way: if you take it out, will it hurt the customer experience or reduce revenue in any way? A good example is the historical order data mentioned earlier – do your customers need to see the last six months of their orders right now? Communicating to customers that you’ve moved to a new site and to please contact customer service with questions about past orders might be fine for now – especially when search and checkout are so much better.
Making the best of what’s best
Getting your new DTC site up fast comes down to focusing on improving what you already have versus adding more “stuff.” Every brand will have different business goals, but the key questions to ask as you develop your MVP plan is, “does this improve the customer experience?” and “will this increase/decrease revenue?” The MVP framework can help you stay focused on what’s important now and get you to launch quickly, on budget.