The purpose of this post is to act as a road map for eCommerce businesses to grow, become more profitable and be more successful. Each step in the process may be impacted by how the previous steps have been implemented. The steps don't have to be completed or commenced in this order, but in many cases we recommend they are. As you progress through the steps, you will often need to iterate through previous steps again.
Let's start with a basic assumption.
The primary goals for most eCommerce websites are:
- To sell products
- To build brand
- To engage visitors/build community
- To provide customer service/support (self service)
To illustrate this road map, I have borrowed from Maslow and the field of psychology to create what I have termed “Hossack's eCommerce Hierarchy of Needs” beta version. (As we now live in a “beta” world, I think it will be a permanent beta evolving with user feedback.)
Before you can go anywhere with your eCommerce store, you need to have your basics covered. Just as Maslow stated that the physiological needs of breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, and excretion must be satisfied before one can worry about safety, Hossack's eCommerce Hierarchy of needs states that the basics must be covered before one can advance to traffic generation.
The basics include the following:
- Entry level – xcart, os Commerce, Site Director, Magento Commerce
- Mid market – Net Suite
- Advanced – Elastic Path, Demand Ware, Market Live, ATG, Truition, iCongo, a custom cart
- Payment Processing
- Site Search
- Entry level – platform default, Google Hosted Custom Search
- Mid Market – SLI Systems, Google Mini search appliance, Omniture
- Enterprise – Endeca, Mercado (now Omniture), Baynote
- Customer Service Call Center
- Yourself, 24/7 in touch
- Google Analytics, Webtrends, Core Metrics, FireClick, Urchin, Crazy Egg
- Implementation – In-house, VKI Studios, Adviso
- Basic Surveying
- 4q (iperceptions)
Traffic Generation/Campaigns in the eCommerce Hierarchy of needs are Maslow's Safety needs. As with the basics (or physiological needs), Traffic needs are very important. You won't be very successful if you can't effectively and efficiently drive traffic to your site.
- PPC tools
- Email Service Providers
- Shopping Feeds/Comparison
- Display Ads
Conversion & User Experience Optimization
In the eCommerce Hierarchy of Needs, Conversion & User Experience Optimization parallel Maslow's Love/Belonging needs. Just as humans aspire to create friendships, have families and have intimate relationships, your web store should strive to offer a great user experience and create positive relationships with its visitors. These relationship will lead to greater conversion rates and a stronger brand perception.
- In-House, VKI Studios
- Heuristic evaluations, ethnographic evaluations, user testing, card sorting, eye tracking
Advanced Features in the eCommerce Hierarchy of Needs are equivalent to Maslow's Esteem needs. Advanced Feature needs are similar to Esteem needs in that they are often never achieved or reached. You can succeed without meeting these needs, but you will be more successful if you do meet them. So your goal should be to do so.
- Bazzar Voice, custom solution
- Bazzar Voice, custom solution
Branding/Community in the eCommerce Hierarchy of needs are Maslow's Self-Actualization needs. Most people or firms will never get to this level. One reason why firms don't get here is that they haven't been able to properly address their earlier needs. Therefore they don't have the time, skills and resources to achieve this level. People can and will perform aspects of the Branding/Community needs level without having progressed through the hierarchy, but to properly build and manage your brand and foster a community of customers, you will likely need to have graduated your way through by satisfying earlier needs.
- Product Videos
- Custom, Ubik
- Loyalty Programs
- custom, platform
- PR/advertorials/editorials (beyond SEO)
- PR Web, trade magazines, expert blog coverage
If you think that you need some assistance/consulting to help you progress up Hossack's eCommerce Hierarchy of Needs contact us so that we can discuss your needs and pains.