So you’ve landed upon a clear set of business objectives for your web platform, You’ve developed a set of organisational key results (OKR's) to understand what constitutes performance against your objectives.
You’re clear on how you can start working towards achieving them. You’ve identified the key customer experiences and how you can start to engineer them to engage with your customers, steering towards meeting your objectives. Great!
You're in good shape You have objectives and the key building blocks of your strategy. In the current climate, that many businesses find themselves in, that is one hell of a start.
You’ve conducted your prioritisation exercise and with a bit of crafting you’ll be down to your initial backlog.
It is at this stage so easy to confine your thinking and actions to the activities in the backlog. With the fullness of time the team will put beautiful ticks in the boxes of job done. Of course, in digital when you're focussed-on time to value ‘done is sometimes better than perfect’.
But the danger here is that you inadvertently fall back to a waterfall method of product development, The truth as you know is that done is not perfect. It is possible to do better but as the next strategic initiative lands, done remains as done. The Customer experience jerks forward only to stall and go no further.
Customer experience should not a linear development. To have a product strategy is great in itself but despite the work and effort that went in to liaising with the stakeholders to develop the strategy. It is nothing more than a plan to achieve. It is a hypothesis. Like so much that we do. It assumes all else is the same and it’s our very best guess. Yes, based on experience and insight, and hopefully validated by customer research, but to a degree, a hunch.
Going back to those OKR’s you have a huge advantage. The means to assess progress.
As you continue to invest and complete the development activities, working through your roadmap, progress should be tracked. Development completed, is 'done' in one form, but it is important to go back to the originating business objectives. Are the customers engaging in the way you expected? As a result, are the new customer experiences delivering against those key results measures. Done=your first shot!
In delivering a product road map it is imperative to have a solid build and release cycle. But as far as continuing to meet and exceeding those objectives is concerned the result is not delivery of the backlog. Meeting and exceeding the customer centric results is the activity that is going to drive your business and your product forward. Your hypothesis is an opportunity to experiment. But with all experimentation it’s the recognition and successful application of the results that takes us forward.
As you continue to develop and future proof your business the agile, experimental approach also allows for course correction, optimisation and of course a dynamic drive for success.
Copyright JumpRock 2020
When information gathering, within a business it is often the case that the most senior people in an organisation are the most adept at simplifying. Paring a raft of detailed and rich information down to a few short bullet points or a statement. Time is money and it’s important to get the pertinent information across succinctly and in the least amount of time.
If what you need is depth, brevity is the enemy. You want the colour and the peripheral details, they will help you understand the boundaries of the subject matter. One approach which can deliver results is to ask people to picture the answer. Not verbally, not in any kind of semantic sense but give them a piece of paper and some pencils or a sharpie and ask them to draw 'what good looks like'?
What you are doing is taking performant professionals and momentarily putting them out of their comfort zone. People who can simplify and communicate at an exceptionally high level have to move from using linguistics to using shapes, You put them in a place they may not have been for many years, they possibly have not drawn anything since they were at school. The stakeholders you are working with have to think in new ways. They have to imagine how they can communicate something in an unusual medium, and they will be clear that what they draw will have connotations. Watch as a new care will arise. You will see the eyes pop up to the top right of the sockets and the top of the pencil will get pointed towards, and chewed in the corner of the mouth.
The exercise is a discussion starter within a workshop. It works very well if you are running a remote workshop as it gives each attendee something tangible to hold up and talk to on camera. Give the group time to think, explore and discuss and you will see wonderful things happen. Annotations will appear that you would never have seen before on bullet points. People will start to explain why their drawing includes a clenched fist, a wry smile or a hand over the eyes. You will get important contextual points coming out in the drawings.
Now this is taking nothing away from simplification. Simplification is a wonderful thing and I agree fully with people who argue for it. This technique is a way of simplifying, remember a picture tells a thousand words, And this should be used when you need that depth, when you need some of the background colour and detail. You need the context and you need the subplot. You need the whole novel on a page!
Anybody that has played Pictionary will understand what is going on here. And if you find you're working in an organisation that has an after-hours Pictionary league, I have one further piece of advice. In workplaces or teams where drawing is prized (a studio or a design organisation) ask them to make models. I have run this same technique before and asked the group to create sock puppets to act out what success looks like.
It is wonderful how inventive people can be when asked to move outside of their comfort zone.
Copyright JumpRock 2020
In this article by Justin Anovick, The Chief Product Officer at Episerver outlines a incremental route-map of key steps to ecommerce maturity. Starting with a commerce minimum viable product (MVP).
The Episerver product suite that Justin represents encompasses a wealth of advanced functionality, and at JumpRock, we have helped, business to business, clients understand how best to implement and utilise the advanced features of the Episerver enterprise platform. Using Episerver to talk specifically to their unique client base.
As Justin outlines, core to developing a technology roadmap, one that will deliver the benefit your business requires, is having the basics of your platform in place. The core journey from product details to transacting, secondly an understanding of your customer segments, some core insights that will help you understand why this individual would choose to transact with you. Developing these base insights will help you understand the competitive advantage that you will be able to capitalise on. It is also important to understand, if and how this information has changed. We have just, globally been through a massive shift in how customers are able and willing to transact. Addressing how this may impact your optimal customer journey is key.
Equally important is developing the clarity and buy in across your business. As an established B2B or B2C operation developing the digital processes required to deliver your product or service will undoubtedly require interactions with the wider business; logistics, manufacturing, supply chain, finance and marketing. Clarity and ‘buy in’ on business direction and a clear understanding of time to value will help you to add a layer of priority to the roadmap. Capitalising on not just, the ease of implementation, but applying a lens around the potential return on each optimisation activity. Your digital platform needs to be a treated as a revenue source and should not fall into the trap of becoming a cost centre.
Having identified the key commercial opportunities and harnessing these against specific business KPI’s will provide a further input when constructing your roadmap. One that will keep it mindful of the complexity of your operation. Your roadmap needs to cut across silo’s recognising the input and complexity of working across the business and building a realistic plan that delivers against the opportunity and business objectives.
We have experience of working with the Episerver platform and providing and executing strategic roadmaps to deliver business transformation. If you need help understanding your customer opportunity or developing a transformational roadmap that will pivot your Episerver commerce platform please do give us a shout for a free exploratory conversation.
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Consider the humble croissant. A mainstay of the continental breakfast. Wonderful paired with fresh butter, jam and a strong coffee. A great grab and go breakfast.
If you want to stock up for home, you know where to go. At the supermarket, not far from the bread, in the baked goods section, next to the cakes and the speciality loaves like rye bread or ciabatta. The reason it’s there has a logic, in the supermarket the shelving configuration is the same as you need for speciality breads. In your mind there is a similarity in the production method, they are baked. And they sit there quite happily next to the bagels and sell in reasonable quantities.
Psychologically we understand the supermarket we have been successfully conditioned to do so.
Consider the following scenario. You are a café owner. Making an online order with your foodservice to fulfil your breakfast sitting tomorrow, you are ordering bacon, fresh tomato’s, coffee and possibly oranges for a fresh juice.
The fresh croissants would provide a great option, an add on for the passing trade who drop in for a takeaway coffee. A great opportunity to increase the share of wallet, and something lighter for those not needing a full English.
Engaging in the product conversation, at the point of consideration, where it makes the most sense to the customer.
Supermarkets are expertly merchandised and behaviourally we know where our groceries are. We would find it incongruous to come across croissants in the bacon chiller. However, in the contextualised context of a café owner ordering volumes of stock for the breakfast sitting from a foodservice website the need for croissants is a very relevant conversation to be had whilst they are weighing up maple smoked bacon.
In a b2b context successful merchandising is a key driver of share of wallet. Primary considerations around taxonomy andnavigation are important, (Croissants sit under baked and breakfast categories). For some organisations delivering the contextual connections can be as simple as drawing up a matrixed relationship and making careful use of upsells and cross sells within the sales journey. The matrix can be optimised and expanded upon using A/B tools over time. For a more complex product suite AI tools are the most effective way to manage a complex and sometimes layered set of product relationships at the scale required.
The contextual relationship is vital to develop the customer experience and drive a higher order value. The relationship between croissants and bacon as well as jam need to be addressed.
If the process is manual, starting simple is key. Build up knowledge based on results. It is too easy to get caught up in the complexity however drawing up a simple set of rules initially that can be refined over time is simpler to achieve than you think.
It is possible to deliver an uplift with a simple rules-based approach. Refining and learning as you go. If you are not doing this already this route may be possible with the tools you are currently using without the need for extensive development.
For AI driven merchandising there may be components within your existing application suite that can deliver significant results. I have seen quoted all be it unattributed statements that over 80 percent of executives in both the retail and consumer product industries expect to be using automated intelligence by 2021, whether this is true or not, it is a fact that AI is into the mainstream and achievable bought as a service without eyewatering investment.
Merchandising your site involves thinking in the context of the site user. Is your head up and smelling the coffee at breakfast or are you nestled away from flow to the side of the baked goods?