Part One – CMS, Sorta
As the deadline for our new product launch of the spring collection drew near, we had completed all the necessary tasks, from marketing photo shoots to writing product copy. We were eager to show our latest offerings to our customers. However, we found an unexpected obstacle when we attempted to add a link to the navigation of our eCommerce website.
The problem was how long it would take to plan, sequence, test, and schedule the change. Our CMS was part of the eCommerce stack, and the catalog drives the navigation we wanted to add another link to. This meant data modeling and spacing for the new link across mobile, tablet, desktop, and retail desktops. The marketers heard, “We have a CMS, but we are not using it.” Another translation was, “The CMS was not hooked up correctly.” :facepalm: The words nimble, flexible, and agile only applied to the team, not to our eCommerce system. The underlying software was monolith, rigid, and waterfall.
We were left scratching our heads and wondering why a simple task could take so long. The process was already streamlined for the team to deliver. All marketing was ready; inventory was arriving at the warehouse. We were at the last mile. We started to think, are we operating on a legacy platform? The frustration and disappointment we experienced during the Navigation Link Saga prompted us to reassess our eCommerce application and consider a switch to a more modern, user-friendly, and scalable platform that could support our business goals and meet our customers’ expectations.
Part Two – Pricing
After adding the product category to the website navigation, we could finally start the digital marketing campaigns. We were excited to refine the product copy and optimize pricing. Our team planned a campaign for a sale. We again worked laser-focused on customer segment messages, copy, and imagery. We were ready to launch and wanted the marketing campaign to align with the start of a sale, exactly at midnight.
The plan had three parts. One, launch the marketing landing pages; Two, change the product price; and Three, announce it to the world by changing the homepage and starting the email campaign. Our message and copy were all about the sale, and the key was changing the price. We presented the plan to our technology partner. We were aligned on the campaign message and the potential revenue. Everything changed when it came to the execution. The price change had to align with the start of the sale and the marketing. The price change started from a spreadsheet, then a couple of manual handoffs, and eventually hand-entered into our ERP System. From there, the journey continued as batch jobs were started and produced a file. Then, the file had to be transferred through two security layers and finally uploaded to an eCommerce application.
This process took, on average, six hours on a normal day. How could we accomplish all that at exactly midnight? Moreover, the IT department asked the marketing department to be on standby to UAT the website from 10:00pm – 2:00am. In a world of turn-key eCommerce, one-click installs, and talking to bots to find your order, why does it take so long to change an item’s price? It might be time to reconsider our eCommerce software choice because it looks like we’re using a legacy platform.
Part Three – PayPal
After analyzing the results of our marketing campaigns, our team made an intriguing discovery: a significant portion of our customer base was averse to using credit cards. Instead, they preferred digital wallets and global currency options like PayPal. This segment of the market had been largely untapped until now. We realized that catering to their preferences could result in a significant boost in revenue for the company.
Excited by this newfound opportunity, our user experience team quickly got to work on creating Figmas for the customer journey for PayPal. The product manager was impressed by the level of detail and care that went into creating these user journeys. We knew that providing a seamless and intuitive experience for customers who preferred PayPal was critical to our success in this part of the market.
We discussed launching PayPal with our technology partner. After showing them our designs, market analysis, and day-long workshops, the technology needed an additional sprint to come up with an estimate. The first major obstacle was changing the customer journey. Next came order history data and then the warehouse’s order management system dependency. After they sequenced out all the dependencies, they lobbed on a new wrinkle; customer service access and refunds. All of this amounted to missing our new market window for the current year and the next.
The place we had been scratching our heads at left us thinking, should we have just started banging our heads against the wall instead? We remembered the first Jira submitted to change the navigation. We were so excited. We kept hitting refresh on the browser like it was at a website buying Taylor tickets.
We received an undergraduate degree’s worth of education about how our website generates HTML, models product data, and handles payments. All of this added up to one conclusion; if our great aunt’s blog about her garden has a new navigation link every Spring and she doesn’t know the difference between taxonomy and anchor tag parameters, she can achieve what we cannot. Maybe it is time we consider a new eCommerce website solution. Most of our problems are caused by this legacy platform.
Conclusion: We Had a Legacy Platform
If it is hard to add a link in your website’s navigation, change the price of a product, or add a payment type, then you should consider a different eCommerce application.
One strategy is to stop using an eCommerce application and instead move to a platform. Applications are highly coupled with the capabilities and the underlying architecture, such as product search or CMS. This means that the development queue to change a link on the home page navigation competes for the same engineering time as a new version upgrade. The upgrade usually has hidden features that are hard to explain and are veiled in statements like ‘security enhancements.’ The fear that something bad could happen is prioritized over a product launch that would drive revenue. The engineering team has multiple types of engineers, but because they are all working together on an application, they need to release new website features and ‘security enhancements’ at the same time. More change to the application requires more testing. More tests take up more time, resulting in fewer application releases for a given cycle.
If you scratch your head the same way we did or if any of this sounds familiar, you should reconsider your eCommerce application. Get off of the old legacy platform that’s causing you so many problems.