From a subtle start to exploding into our daily lives, the eCommerce industry is rapidly growing and revolutionizing the way we shop online.
The eCommerce industry is less expensive to enter, has fewer startup costs, and has better margins than traditional retail. Currently, eCommerce makes up 20.4% of all retail sales worldwide, and this figure is expected to grow to 21.8% by 2024.
For this reason, it’s the right time to set your foot in the online world and upgrade your existing business. And you cannot afford just to sit back and let such a great opportunity slide out of your hand.
However, you need the right plan and tools to survive and drive sales in this dynamic and competitive eCommerce world. Taking the first step towards online success begins with understanding eCommerce project management. Let’s quickly dive in!
What is eCommerce Project Management?
ECommerce project management is a subset of regular project management that has a different focal point and its own characteristics. It is the use of numerous talents, tools, techniques, and approaches, as well as the performance of various tasks, to the effective development of an eCommerce project.
ECommerce project management significantly relies on tried-and-true traditional project management concepts and methodologies, although implementing them in eCommerce is far more difficult than in any other domain.
However, lacking a proper plan and management can make it a little rocky for online businesses to achieve success. For instance, you can fall into the loop of delays in schedules and delivery, misaligned workflow, poor collaboration, low sales, and low profit. And such problems, if not taken care of sooner, can take your business to the ground!
Thus, don’t make this mistake; understand and invest in the right methodologies, adopt the right tools, and plan and manage your eCommerce business successfully.
Popular Methodologies to Manage eCommerce Projects
By choosing the right methodology, businesses can avoid different uncertainties at the beginning of their eCommerce project. However, adapting one methodology to eCommerce can be quite challenging. Thus, managers prefer combining several project management methodologies to suit the existing business needs.
Here is a list of the most commonly used project management frameworks in eCommerce:
Agile is a software development methodology that promotes continuous development and testing throughout the project lifecycle. It’s ideal for projects with shifting requirements. A product is broken into small components and produced in iterations in Agile. Following each development cycle, the team reviews the results and considers what innovations are needed to ensure that the product meets the expectations.
Agile offers the benefit of receiving customer feedback for each implemented feature, which greatly impacts constant development. However, this project methodology may make it harder to predict the outcome of the project.
The Scrum methodology is based on teams pooling their knowledge and efforts to create and deliver high-quality, ready-to-use products under the guidance of a scrum master. It begins with a discussion of the client’s principal objectives and requirements. Scrum employs sprints, and each sprint produces a finished product that is then enhanced in subsequent sprints.
Daily short meetings of up to 15 minutes called scrum are held to review progress, discuss difficulties, and plan the day’s duties. Because so much emphasis is placed on teamwork, it is critical that each team member has sufficient experience and is prepared to respond promptly to situations.
Kanban is similar to Scrum’s project management methodology, although it is less stringent. Tasks can be classified as To Do, In Progress, or Done using the Kanban approach. This strategy enables you to make changes not only after the sprint but also whenever required.
Kanban emphasizes shorter life cycles and shorter sprints. Typically, tasks are monitored using moving sticky notes about the board or using a board view in a free project management software such as SmartTask, Asana, Trello, etc. Kanban’s major feature is frequent adjustments and updates to aid in the overall progress of the assignment.
Instead of long-term implementation planning, lean project management measures the efficiency of each stage’s work. It entails a continuous workflow to avoid bottlenecks and delays and to drive continuous improvement. At each stage, new adjustments and enhancements are added to the ultimate product. This management structure’s principal purpose is to provide value to the client.
Lean methodology focuses on saving critical time and energy that would otherwise be squandered on redoing by outlining the features on each level. It prioritizes critical features while avoiding needless chores and meetings. However, focusing on value rather than quality may have negative consequences.
Waterfall is a tried-and-true methodology that works well for projects with precise requirements. The project manager creates a product roadmap at the start of the project, and the team adheres to it without deviation. Project Managers can easily calculate the budget and set product development deadlines using this process.
However, it is difficult to make product adjustments during the development phase, and the results may fall short of meeting frequently changing end-user requirements. As a result, Waterfall is widely employed in the development of “mission-critical” or small projects.
How to Plan Your eCommerce Projects
Having the right processes and workflows in place will help you start your eCommerce store smoothly and easily.
Here we have broken down the key steps you need to successfully plan out your eCommerce project. Let’s take a look.
1. Choose the Appropriate PM Methodology for Your eCommerce Project
The very first step toward planning out an eCommerce project starts by choosing the right project management methodology that meets your business requirements.
There are a variety of project management methodologies, as mentioned above, that can help you take your project from start to finish successfully. So, look into the methodologies, understand how they work, and pick the one that suits your needs the best.
2. Analyze Your Competitors
Once you have picked a methodology, it’s time for some market research and in-depth competitor analysis. You should be able to answer the following:
- Who is in this space already?
- What are things working for them?
- What can you do to build on that or differentiate your brand from theirs?
By gaining these insights early on in the process, you can identify the weaknesses and strengths of the market leaders, learn from their mistakes, and shape your project accordingly.
3. Plan Your eCommerce Project
For smooth product development, you need to have a proper plan in place for the entire project cycle. You start with establishing clear goals and determining KPIs for your business. Then move on to planning your project scope, timeline, and budget. Make sure to consider all the risks and prepare a contingency plan as well.
Then, keeping all the factors in mind, define the work and tasks required to achieve your target. Finally, choose the appropriate work and project management platforms where you can feed your plan and manage everything related to your eCommerce project.
4. Distribute Tasks Among Teams and Determine Workflow Process
Each aspect of the project you work on and complete has an impact on your organization and its goals. Therefore, your team must finish everything accurately and on schedule.
To guarantee that all activities are completed appropriately, create a workflow and allocate the required tasks to your team members. It should all be clearly outlined in your project management system.
Assume you want to develop and promote a new product. The product development team must begin brainstorming ideas, the design team must create prototypes, and the creative team must create copy and related visual assets.
Instead of getting on a call with each team member every time, create a clear picture of what needs to be done and feed it into your project management system. This way, you will be able to update everyone at once and convey what has to be done. Also, while assigning the tasks, make sure to clarify what outcome is expected of each task to avoid any delays or future problems.
5. Develop an MVP
Starting with an MVP, Minimum Viable Product is the perfect way to get your project off to a great start.
Rather than investing time and resources in developing a complex, integrated version of your website or application, create an MVP first.
To avoid the dangers of building a complete, personalized online store, design your website with only the minimal elements required for an initial launch to gather feedback. Design a logo that aligns with your ideas perfectly and conveys your message to the end user.
Then, carefully examine the data you obtain in response to this and use it in the creation of your final product for a better customer experience.
6. Monitor Project Development with the Right Tools
Once the work on the project starts, it’s essential to control how the development proceeds. As a project manager, you have to keep a tab on the key elements of the project to make sure the project stays on the planned course. This includes managing timelines and schedules, project scope, and budget and ensuring everything is being done as expected.
One of the best ways to track and manage all these factors is to implement the right project management and communication tools. You might need tools for task tracking, monitoring, time tracking, scheduling, information sharing, and team collaboration. Instead of opting for too many tools, you can go for all-in-one tools like Asana, Jira, SmartTask, etc., that can meet most of your requirements. By the way, don’t get stuck between Asana and Jira while deciding on the right platform for you.
7. Launch Your eCommerce Store
Now that your MVP is prepared and improved get your store registered and prepare for the big launch and its marketing.
Launching an eCommerce product to the market is always an important moment for every business. At this point, it’s crucial to outline the next steps in product development and collect customer feedback.
Also, never stop your development and designing process until you think the version of your online store is perfect. Always keep improving! This brings us to our next and final step.
8. Iterate and Test
ECommerce is a different industry altogether. And only a handful of projects truly survive till the final stage or get iterated. After following the recommended SEO practices for eCommerce and planning some website updates, you draft them, run them as A/B variants to see how they perform, and then go back to planning.
Continuous iterating and testing have become crucial because there’s no such thing as a perfect product listing, a perfect store, or a perfect checkout service. There’s always room for improvement. Take into account the dynamics of eCommerce tactics, and you have a strong reason to keep going and improvising.
It’s time to put these tried and tested eCommerce project management tips into practice to benefit your online venture. The process of launching and managing an online business can be quite complex and challenging. Therefore, you need to be well prepared and equipped to handle that.
With a strong team of professionals, the right tools that fall into your budget, and the right methodologies to facilitate eCommerce project development, you can keep everything under control.
Shyamal Parikh is the Founder of SmartTask, an online work management/automation software that helps teams streamline their processes, whether sales, hiring, customer success, or projects. He actively shares strategies and techniques that improve a team’s productivity.