Setting up an eCommerce is a huge thing. Cooperation with an expert or the use of project management software is a partial guarantee of the success of an e-store implementation. However, many implementations fail, despite using the services of experts. The reason is that you have to be appropriately prepared for both: setting up a new website and the launch date of the final (or MVP) version. The project schedule, project objectives, and project scope elaborated by team members and project managers should be carefully planned for a successful product launch.
In this article, we will present the things (project launch checklist) that you should pay attention to in your project schedule, before implementing your store, and before product launch.
What should you pay attention to when starting your new e-store, or B2B / B2C system?
Launching a project is a milestone in the process of eCommerce development. But before you reach this point, there are a couple of things you should consider. You can treat it as a product launch checklist for the implementation of the new product, new process, or just a new system.
Start planning – build on solid foundations
Define what do you need – goals and key features of your eCommerce
It is one of the most important and the most often overlooked steps in the project scope. To get a reliable and profitable business, you need to determine your business needs and goals, define an eCommerce strategy to achieve these goals, and finally – set clear KPI (Key Performance Indicators) that align with your goals and strategy.
In other words, you should answer the questions: Where am I now? Where do I want to be in the future? How to get to that ‘future”?
Define the needs of your target audience
Understanding your (potential) customers’ needs and expectations will be a completion of your strategy. Ask them questions and try to put yourself in their shoes. What do they expect from the system? What annoys them the most? The more feedback you will get, the more customer-centric your ecosystem will be. Your sales team may be helpful here because they are the ones, who work with your clients the most often.
Build a proper team
The next step is to define the project team (maybe consisting of various teams?), including the project manager, product manager, customer support team, and other resources if needed. If responsibilities are fuzzy and there is no one to take responsibility for decisions and communication, the implementation (and product release) may take a long time. Apart from the project manager, you should also set a work breakdown structure and communications plan between different teams. For the success of your eCommerce project, you need your team commitment, so take care of the right people in the right positions.
You may want to create a project management checklist, to make sure you are completely prepared with the cross-functional teams, team members, project management in general, vision statement, product launch plan, existing products, and other projects resources. Make your plan available to your cross-functional product team to keep all team members on the same page and on track.
Easily accessible product launch plan
Communicate your project plan, eCommerce goals, strategy, and plans to your entire organization before you start with your project. Educate each department/team on the advantages of eCommerce, with benefits specific to their own department (i.e. communicate what’s in it for them), to overcome any internal resistance. Present your eCommerce plans and goals to any relevant external stakeholders (e.g. ERP or hosting partner, IT or design agency, etc.). Consult your project management checklist (if you have created one) and/or project checklist.
Product launch planning (before)
Specify requirements (MVP)
Think about what do you want to have in your eCommerce in the really first version? Define the features that satisfy you and your customers – MVP (minimum viable product). Sometimes it may happen that there will have been some time and budget left, so decide which additional, new features would you like to add. Check if your existing materials are enough. Are there any new users?
Start a journey that your customer may take on your online store – it helps you gather the requirements for the product launch.
Prepare data and content
Think about what you want to sell in your eCommerce. If you already have some products, take care of the migration process (the graphic below may help you with that). Do you need to update existing materials or add a new product before a product launch?
If you set up a new store, try to specify the structure, categories (and subcategories), think if you need any additional features to present your offer. If you have integrations with ERP and/or PIM solutions, take care of cleaning up any unnecessary information they store – you don’t want to have a mess in your new eCommerce system, right?
Define a deadline for the project
To make sure that your deadlines are achievable, consult your project timeline with the agency. In fact, they should estimate how much time they need to create specific functionality or the whole part of the project so that together you will define milestones and deadlines for the product launch. Don’t forget to determine the time for your internal (sales/marketing) team to create the content and/or landing pages.
The right project budget
When receiving the estimation, you will also be informed about the costs of the project implementation (if you set up an eCommerce on your own, you probably know them). Get familiar with any additional expenses that could push you over budget, such as maintenance, licenses, fees of the content/design agencies (if you use any).
Rely and lean on your eCommerce company
Remember to rely on agencies with proven experience in implementing projects. They will advise you at every stage of the project. Use their knowledge and support to get the solution you wanted.
In BitBag, one of the first stages in an ideal scenario is a workshop. We collect and discuss customers’ requirements for the projects in detail, considering business and technical aspects. Additionally, we discuss all the functionalities and tools. During the workshop, it is worth determining both the MVP of the project and considering all the things that could appear in the future. As a result, we will create a solid architecture and estimation for the client in a predetermined model.
OK. So, now let’s jump to a different topic. Since you already know how to prepare for the implementation of the project, now let’s take a look at what to take care of before launching it.
The division (product launch checklist) presented below should only be an inspiration – it is not a complete determinant.
Product launch checklist – a few steps before the complete project
You probably know that before ‘go-live’ your system should be checked (preferably by the professional tester) to make sure that everything works as expected.
Here you have some of the questions you may ask
- Has your platform passed functional tests?
- Does every link at the front-end work?
- Is the shopping path clear?
- Are you able to manage the orders?
- Do the integrations look and work as expected?
- Has your platform passed security tests?
- Has your solution provider given you any guarantee?
- How do you convince your clients about safety?
- Has the sensitive data been encrypted and secured?
- Has your platform passed performance tests?
- You don’t want your new platform to be slower than the old one, do you? Run the tests, even if the agency promised you a ‘fast and efficient solution’.
- Does it look good on different screen resolutions and in different browsers?
- Does your project have release notes and support documentation?
- Have you planned the next launch?
- Do you have well-described roles and responsibilities for all the work in projects?
A catalog of product
Make sure that all the products you wanted appear in the system (whether they were migrated or added from scratch) in the way you wanted.
- Check if the formatting looks good and if it is visible for everyone.
- How about photos – do they suit each product? Are they in a good resolution/size?
- Do promotions, cross-selling and any related products work well?
- Does your eCommerce have the categories you wanted?
- Do you want to make sales in different market(s)?
- Is the catalog/new product adapted to a different market?
- Static content
- Do the internal text links work?
- Do the formatting, pictures, photos and other project resources look good and display properly?
- Check the e-mail address, phone numbers, addresses, and bank account number – make sure they are filled with no test or example data.
- Make sure that the e-mail template’s formatting and configuration are OK.
- Check how any advertisements look. Are they adapted to the store layout?
- Have you taken care of the (new) product positioning?
- Is your site available from search engines (is it indexed)?
- Does your template follow good SEO practices?
- Have you defined titles and descriptions for each page?
- Is your sitemap generated correctly?
Payment and delivery methods
- Do you have all of the payments and delivery methods you wanted?
- Do delivery methods have the right prices?
- Does each of the payment methods work properly?
- Have all the integrations been tested?
- Do your products have the current stock availability?
- Do you have tracking entered (Google Analytics etc.)?
- Do you have all the tools connected?
E-mail, domain, SSL certificate
- Does your eCommerce have the SSL certificate properly connected?
- Are the e-mail settings and external tools properly configured?
- Make sure your company and its data collection comply with the current regulations to avoid your company from potential problems in case of security in the future.
Take the leap: Launch your eCommerce site!
If you are planning to set up a new eCommerce, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will provide you with the help you need.
Here are the graphics of the project/product launch checklist that may help support the documentation you already have. You may also download it as a PDF.