How to Build a Successful Digital Commerce Platform

November 02, 2021

Contributor: Manasi Sakpal

Follow these four best practices to implement a digital commerce project.

As digital business accelerates, B2B marketers are seeing a whole new wave of digital commerce opportunities. These could be tiered subscription-based plans like pay-per-use cloud models, auto-replenishments of raw materials at the manufacturing facility, predictive maintenance of internet of things (IoT) devices at a hospital or managing the end-to-end customer journey of a banking product.  

Gartner predicts that by 2022, organizations using multiple go-to-market approaches for digital commerce will outperform non-digital organizations by 30% in sales growth. Key to success here is well-thought-out implementation.

“Digital commerce is here to stay, but as many as 90% of these project implementations fail or get deprioritized before they reach customers,” says Aditya Vasudevan, Director Analyst, Gartner. “Unexpected costs and delays cause stakeholders to lose interest and application leaders have to abort these projects.”

Watch now: Build The Best Business Case for B2B Digital Commerce

The success of any digital commerce project implementation depends on setting clear goals and having the right mix of technologies and teams to avoid unexpected costs, delays and frustrated stakeholders. Follow these four best practices to foster strong outcomes.

The image showcases four steps to implementation of digital commerce platform.

1. Prepare and set up 

The decisions you make before implementation will determine the success of your digital commerce platform. Consider a few key action items: 

  • Finalize desired business outcomes
  • Analyze the customer experience journey
  • Choose the right architecture approach and high-level product feature set
  • Select the digital commerce platform and other applications in the ecosystem

2. Deliver continuously 

A continuous delivery cycle ensures that the implementation process is iterative and reduces the risk of a low-quality solution.

“Think of it as a regular health check-in with the people and technology involved to continuously learn from mistakes and deploy incremental improvements,” says Vasudevan. 

Three elements are key to the success of this step: 

  • Discovery: Clearly discuss requirements with the respective business owners, subject-matter experts and end-users (through surveys or other feedback mechanisms) to avoid pitfalls later in the process.  
  • Development: Ensure that you cover the three components of solution development: the user interface, core commerce platform and integrations. 
  • Validation: Develop and test features individually. Create an operational playbook based on the learnings from this step once the platform is live so that the cross-functional teams involved in running the platform know how to fix issues without escalations. 

3. Plan go-live

Being underprepared for the go-live is a sure way to set yourself up for failure. It’s tempting to skip essential activities like training and organizational change management, especially if you’re behind schedule or over budget — don't do it.

Create a launch-day checklist that outlines critical activities for all stakeholders, including environment setup, data import, communication, operational readiness, training calendar, performance, security testing and rollback strategy. 

4. Measure outcomes and continuously Improve 

Digital commerce stakeholders should identify metrics and targets linked to specific business outcomes. You can further refine these goals and include them in real-time updates so that operational staff can receive alerts when key metrics break thresholds.

To measure the outcomes, the operational staff should use various monitoring techniques to gather data:

  • Site operational monitoring includes application performance monitoring, which can monitor the browser and application to detect issues, such as during peak activities.
  • User experience value measures KPIs that are related to overall brand experience, interface usability and product sentiments.
  • Digital experience monitoring or digital/web analytics can help detect user-experience-related issues and determine causes, including browser-specific problems.

“Plan for improvements based on the insights garnered from this monitoring into the digital commerce release cycles,” says Vasudevan. 

These aggregated insights should further feed into prioritizing business outcome improvements into the planning process for the iteration of the implementation cycle. Measure and compare business outcomes to key performance metrics related to site operations, user experience value, digital marketing and customer service, and continuously improve.

Experience Information Technology conferences

Join your peers for the unveiling of the latest insights at Gartner conferences.