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How to wow retailers part 2: Delivering on time and on budget

Scarlett Reeves

Ever delivered an ecommerce project late or over budget?

You’re not the only one; missing these targets is common in projects across industries around the world.

But if you’re an agency wanting to wow retailers, delivering within these pre-agreed criteria is a baseline for success.

 Read on to discover how you can deliver everything a retailer needs when it comes to their online store, while successfully staying within both time limit and budget.

The scope

Whether you’re re-platforming a retailer or building a whole new ecommerce store, the first thing you need to do is define the scope.

Why? So everyone involved understands and agrees what’s being done. 

 It also helps prevent scope creep, which often leads to projects going unfinished or cancelled, having gone over budget with no end in sight.

When it comes to project scope, there are some key areas to consider:

  • Front end implementation: Factor time for design changes and delays.
  • Time scales: what are the expected timeframes for project goals and completion and are they realistic to both parties?
  • Data imports: Whose job is it to organise, translate and parse the data?
  • Integrations: Provide the retailer with suitable options, and don’t blindly use those they’ve previously used. 
  • Transfer of knowledge: Is the retailer expecting training on their new platform?
  • Costs: Outline and agree these upfront, including costs for additional or alternative work.
  • KPIs: It’s important to measure and understand the retailer’s current baselines, so you know what ‘good’ looks like. Then define objectives to meet or exceed these. 

Duncan Woodward, Managing Director at Square Owl, recommends:

“It’s important to challenge a retailer to focus on their requirements and KPIs as this helps agencies to propose new opportunities that add real business value based on their experience. 

Often, agencies/developers will take the path of least resistance and re-spec the current situation for a client based on legacy integrations or processes regardless. 

This can lead to lost opportunities such as cost savings and/or continue to pose a barrier to conversion the client wasn’t even aware of.” 

Internal appraisal and project management  

It’s not uncommon for agencies to over promise during a pitch process and worry about delivery later on. But if your team is already stretched too thin this will only harm you, as you fail to deliver the project or deliver a substandard result.

Your whole team, from developers and designers to salespeople, should be consulted during this appraisal. This will enable you to check the resources, skills, and expertise needed against what you have available.

If you don’t have enough in-house, it’s time to bring in some external help.

When it comes to project management, whoever is overseeing it needs the right experience and best methodology for the project. An inexperienced or underprepared project manager can lose control of a project very quickly. 

Sarkis Salleh, Managing Director at ecommerce development company ITQ Digital, recommends consideration of resourcing on the customer side too; 

“We often find that ITQ is ahead of schedule on a project, but that the customer has not allocated sufficient resources or expertise to complete their deliverables. 

The more clarity you can provide on who and what will be required from the customer’s side at the project kick off stage, the more likely the project will be to succeed.” 

Accountability

Accountability cements a culture of responsibility and steers everyone down the same path towards a common goal. 

To make it work there needs to be frequent communication between everyone working on the project. This way you can ensure everything is running smoothly, and tackle any obstacles before they become too big.

Expectations

With accountability in place amongst your team, you’ll be able to better manage the expectations of the retailer. This starts at setting the scope and should be managed through project delivery. 

If the retailer hasn’t had a clear outline of realistic expectations from the beginning, or you set unrealistic expectations to win a job, this can have an ever-growing negative impact. 

The result could see retailers becoming unhappy if their expectations aren’t met, jeopardising work with not only them but others in the future. 

Contact 

Regular contact will help ensure a project goes as planned. And keeping the retailer informed of all the great progress being made will help to keep them happy.

Overall, regular communication can lead to:

  • Better transparency
  • Increased trust
  • Fewer misunderstandings
  • Greater retailer satisfaction
  • Reputational benefits

Changes

 It’s not unheard of for a retailer to want changes part way through a project.

This is why the project scope needs to be determined at the very beginning. Meanwhile, regular contact and feedback need to be maintained between a small group of people throughout the project.

 By keeping this group small, it should keep the project on track and prevent changes late in the day.

If changes are requested part-way through the project it can have a huge effect on the time and budget. Address this by outlining how long the delay will be, how much it will cost, and allow the retailer to decide on the change based on this information.

Who knows; the retailer may decide that the original plan is more appealing!

Staying on track with Aero

At Aero, we've built a platform which allows agencies to build sites that meet the needs of retailers out-of-the-box.

That means fewer limitations and less need for time-consuming and costly add-ons. As a result, building an online store is a straightforward process which won't be derailed by changes to requirements.

To find out more, get in touch with the Aero team today.

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