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How to overcome challenges in your digital commerce transformation

By Partner Guest Blog , Friday, January 26, 2018


Why you’ll need a modernization roadmap for your enterprise commerce solution

E-commerce Insights blog

By Walter Rolle, Director – Sales & Marketing Solutions, RDA

If you’re an enterprise marketer, chances are you’ve tried to refresh online content, enable self-service, or tailor the experience to emerging personas.

If so, have you experienced excessive lead times to update prices or discounts? Was it impossible to roll out a new product line before the season changed? Is the data in various systems disjointed and out of sync? Are you capturing the information necessary to really know your customer?

If these questions sound familiar, then read ahead for the blueprint to a digital commerce transformation. While performing a series of small projects and routine maintenance for a client, we discovered many of the questions above frustrated their team. Neenah Paper, a premium paper and packaging company founded over 125 years ago, was challenged updating its online presence to uphold the high-end status of the brand.

The existing web properties were ineffective at serving customers because of outdated designs, stale content, hidden content, and cumbersome back-office operations. To overcome these challenges, we recommended a short project to build a modernization roadmap. It yielded a series of projects that incrementally rolled out an enhanced shopping experience that was dynamic to the visitor’s persona and device.

The goal was to provide a shopping experience that could cater to various personas such as distributors, consumers, designers, and printers. Upon making a purchase, the system automatically fulfilled orders, allowing the company to sell more effectively with less overhead. If your organization faces similar challenges, defining a roadmap will help break the problem down into smaller projects that are quickly achievable.

Drawing the roadmap

The first step was to gather information by adding a survey to the existing sites and interviewing sales, marketing, and customer service so we could prioritize complaints with the biggest impact. A brand strategy defined the top personas, which created a barometer to evaluate user experience by reviewing design suggestions from the customer’s perspective.

The branding concepts, used as input to the creative design, compared top commerce sites across various industries to ensure the look, feel, and navigation was consistent with visitor expectations. With a visual in mind, the team moved into a technical evaluation.

We designed a future state that would consolidate disparate systems and automate an end-to-end process, then finalized software selection. To bridge technical concepts with marketing needs, we devised a way to virtually whiteboard a product catalog with the whole project team that would satisfy all personas without overcomplicating system management. The plan included a way for marketing to adjust price and relate products to give each persona extra incentive to convert, by leveraging standard features of Sitecore Experience Commerce.

Bringing the project to life

Key integrations supported a full commerce experience: product catalog data ingestion, freight/tax calculation, credit card payment, approval workflow, refunds, fulfillment, and reconciliation of the general ledger. Re-usable forms were built to maximize elicitation of customer information to acquire profiles for downstream marketing automation.

We also built a data warehouse to provide transactional reports, so we can quickly validate the ROI forecast that allowed the project to be sponsored. During testing, we simulated failures in critical integration points to ensure staff receives an email when the system cannot recover on its own.

Finally, we built the system on a cloud infrastructure that is easy to manage with high availability. Whenever a feature was built, we made sure to train marketing on how to configure it without developer involvement.

By overcoming common project pitfalls, Neenah Paper now enjoys a platform that paved the way for greater digital maturity. You can read more details about how it improved user experience, boosted staff productivity, and increased revenue. Basically the key to success was avoiding analysis paralysis and breaking the effort down into small consumable units without missing outcomes or functionality.

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Walter Rolle leads RDA’s Digital Sales & Marketing practice, helping marketers to offer the best customer experience. Follow him on LinkedIn or Twitter @WaltRolle.

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