Retailers are working hard to pare down their investment priorities.  The mantra for retailers will be "business value".  Because most are expecting basically flat holiday growth at best, organizations are looking for ways to have top-line impact without negative bottom-line consequences.  eCommerce will likely be a bright spot for retailers in a tough holiday season.  As eCommerce will deliver some revenue growth for many retailers this holiday season, it will also be an area that will get some investment (or will get to stay on its original budget...).    

While there are different  paths to business value for eCommerce investments here are a few basic tenets to consider:

  • Be realistic
    • About revenue projections - 20-30% growth trajectories may not be realistic anymore.  Don't oversell where eCommerce revenue will go.  Be content to make it a bright spot. 
    • About conversion rate impact - Buying keywords, revamping SEO strategies, etc are all great investments but at the end of the day conversion rate impact is the metric that matters.  Impacting conversion rate by a full point can be transformational for revenue, so don't set the bar too high.
  • Keeping the lights on matters
    • Operational efficiencies gained through new technologies or processes should be a priority, even when ROI is not immediate.
    • Be careful with traditional shortcuts like adding hardware at peak volumes.  Is this the most efficient way to meet scale demands?  Think about working on bottlenecks with internal staff or a short-term project to reduce total hardware footprint.  Virtualization is hot clearly, so make sure your non-production servers (at a bare minimum) are taking advantage of this technology. 
  • The Business Wins
    • IT organizations that think of themselves like cost centers will be treated like cost centers.  eCommerce groups within IT are an integral component for overall success.
    • Business organizations and IT organizations supporting eCommerce have melted together and approach projects jointly. 
    • Marketers, merchandisers, content editors, etc are now expected to have both business and IT acumen.  By providing them easy to use, robust tools they can more effectively interact with customers, drive initiatives on they own, and make an impact.  The days of the change request are coming to an end.