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Choosing the right software platform for your webshop.

When choosing the platform for your webshop, it is important to deal with different requirements and processes. And the better and more detailed you define your needs, the easier and more efficiently you can prepare the strategy for your software platform.

Determining which e-commerce platform best suits your business can be confusing, especially if you don't know which criteria are essential. Your platform must match the needs of your company. So how do you determine what is vital to include when defining your requirements, and how do you know what is best for the user? Our Head of Data & Commerce, Chris Zimmerman, gives you some good advice on how to clear up the process and which essential requirements you should keep track of when you prepare your digital business and choose a new platform.

Define your requirements.

It is a good idea to define your requirements based on the service, function, or feature that the user will need. It's a good idea to try to put yourself in your user's place when defining your requirements. Do you need to add products to a shopping cart, purchase items with a credit card or look up an order and get the delivery details? More specifically, think about the customer journey and not the final destination.

Keep track of the different requirement-categories.

Overall, you can distinguish between two different types of requirements. The functional requirements define what the individual function or feature requires. A requirement could be the possibility to visit a webshop or to compare different products. Then there are the non-functional requirements that define how a solution should behave - for example, deciding that the customer-facing functionality must respond within 2 seconds.

When you have a handle on which requirements your functions must meet, you can now start designing the user journey itself, which you would like to lead your customer through. Now we have to think, "We have our requirements and know what needs to happen. Now we have to determine how we get there".

Focus on the user story.

We sometimes look blindly at the structure of the software without involving the user, but the most important thing when you build your webshop platform is meeting the user's needs. At the same time, the developing team depends on the users to be able to develop the product by tracing their steps. Therefore, it can be beneficial to turn 180 degrees and see the feature from the user's perspective. This way, you will get an insight into how and whether the specific feature you are building is valuable for the user who encounters it.

Use the INVEST strategy.

The INVEST strategy is excellent to follow when preparing your user story. INVEST stands for six factors that can contribute to a more effective user story. Let's try to summarize the definition:

(I)ndependent

The specific user story must be able to function and be developed independently of other user stories.

(N)egotiable

Your user story must be negotiable and initiate dialogue with the customer.

(V)aluable

The business value of each user story should be easily recognizable, and each one should represent some value for a specific type of user.

(E)stimable

It should be easy to estimate, and the user story should enable the development team to assess the complexity of the work and the effort required.

(S)mall

User Stories must be small enough to be completed within a sprint.

(T)estable

It must be possible to test the solution to ensure it has been developed correctly.

We have briefly described the six factors that make up the INVEST strategy. If you use the strategy and identify the six factors, you have a good starting point for preparing the user story. Most importantly, user stories are the connecting point between the development team and the business-oriented people who are not as technical. Working from a user story perspective makes decision-making more straightforward, as parties from various fields are involved.

Get to the finish line by splitting up the process.

So how do we get from start to finish? We can easily divide the process into the parts mentioned in the above sections.

  1. What is it that the user would like to achieve on your website?

  2. Develop the functional requirements that make this possible.

  3. Prepare the non-functional requirements to control what needs to happen through the various features.

  4. Prepare the user story.

In my experience, if you do not do this preparatory work, you will eventually switch out the solution because you focus on the goal instead of spending enough time preparing the solution and concentrating on the process. Not all vendors or platforms are suitable for everyone. My best advice would be to do yourself the favour of going through this list and completing the process. This will save you time and money in the long run.

- Chris Zimmerman, Head of data & commerce, Kruso