1/3/18 10:15 AM

Changing banners, launching new products, organizing site releases and optimizing merchandising shouldn’t require outside help. When ecommerce technology empowers non-technical business users to take full control of digital and customer experiences, online merchants unlock a hidden source of efficiency, profitability and growth.

What habits help lean ecommerce teams punch above their weight?

Habit 1: Keep it fresh

Productive teams never let their site experience go stale. Social and email campaigns push new content daily or multiple times per day -- the website experience needs to keep up. Competitors aggressively push new products, new promotions, daily deals and timely themes. Fresh site content and merchandising keeps customers engaged and coming back for more.

“We make changes pretty much every day -- at least during the work week, and we do schedule Releases even on weekends. We try to update our home page visuals, deals, new product releases, things like that. At least two to four times a week we've changed something about the site, and it's really easy to do for us.”

Rachael Gelowtski, Dir MIS & Ecommerce, Olympia Sports 

Fresh content surprises and delights customers with brand stories that transcend the home page, enhances every touchpoint from product discovery through checkout, and looks good across all devices. 

“We recently released a collection called Mermaids that allowed us to really throttle the tools of the Workarea Admin. We put together a completely new campaign to launch three different products, and we used all of the tools at our disposal to create a cohesive campaign. That includes mobile responsive homepage content blocks, user-generated content, on-site javascript that made bubbles come up from the bottom of the home page, in-grid content blocks -- you name it, we used it to put together an entire campaign and create an otherworldly experience for our customers wanting to transform themselves into Mermaids.”

Chrissie Webster, VP Ecommerce, Lime Crime

Fast-moving teams need tools that let them make both quick-and-simple and rich, strategic updates independent of IT. Products like Workarea empower lets non-technical business users create, edit, preview and publish cross-device experiences right within their admin.

Habit 2: Stay ahead of the game

Effective digital teams are organized and operate ahead of schedule. Rather than constantly chasing (or missing) deadlines, they get the bulk of their work done ahead of schedule. They enjoy the flexibility to test and tweak, respond to real-time needs and opportunities, and continually develop creative new strategies.

Technology that supports pre-schedules deployments and rollbacks allow teams to confidently set-it-and-forget it. Unique to Workarea, Releases allow your team members to prepare, manage and launch site updates in advance. Any number or combination of changes to pages and layouts, content, discounts, pricing, categories, products, navigation, search and merchandising rules and more can all be organized within a Release. 

“The nice thing about Workarea is we can plan ahead and schedule Releases. I might have a team of two or three people working on the site to turn it over for Halloween or post-Halloween or Christmas. We're able to load up our content and have it release on a specific day or time. And if we get the work done early, we can actually publish on point -- so it's really nice to be able to have the flexibility of working ahead.”

Bob McKlveen, Creative Director, Costume SuperCenter

“Trying to do that on Halloween day, or the day before Halloween when the team's already fried is just going to be a nightmare. So the team can build Releases in advance, and as they work through the sites and through the pages, they just put them into the Release schedule, and you know that they'll go up.”

Jim Moore, VP of Marketing, Costume SuperCenter

Habit 3: Do more with less

Modern commerce technology turns the non-technical business user into a triple-threat unicorn -- a marketer, designer and advanced coder in one, allowing them to do it all without IT. Even when business users possess HTML or CSS skills, eliminating the coding process helps them get far more done in less time.

The Workarea ecommerce platform lets business users rapidly build pages and campaigns, and handles responsive coding automatically.

“It’s really important to me to be as efficient as I can possibly be. We don't have a large team to manage marketing and day-to-day merchandising on the website -- case in point since I'm also doing the graphics. The tools that are inside Workarea are what really allow me to get in, get out, and get the result that I want.

On our old website, if I wanted to build a landing page it had to be coded. I'd have to break out the HMTL and CSS skills and actually build a page -- not the most efficient use of my time. 

Moving to Workarea allows me to create landing pages whenever I need them. The modular tools let me create promotional grids, insert banners -- any number of things. It really speeds up my day. 

Just this past Monday, I was able to build seven emails, and all the graphics for those emails, a whole message from beginning to end, two landing pages, and the homepage. All on a Monday.

Before, just to build the home page would have taken half the day. The landing pages would have taken the rest of the day. There would have been no time to build the emails, there would have been no time to do extra graphics. I was able to get ahead.”

Kyle Crabtree, Email and Social Media Director, Woodcraft

Leveled-up business users organize and deploy comprehensive site updates and move from idea to execution with rapid speed. 

“Specifically for our Mermaids campaign, we put all of the changes into a single Release. Home page changes, products going live, in grid content, pretty URL redirects for social media -- all of that was packaged into a single Release that then went live at a specific time.

Our team is pretty scrappy, but by having a smaller team, we can move a lot more nimbly than larger organizations. From ideation to execution, it was fewer than three weeks to put it all together.”

Chrissie Webster, VP Ecommerce, Lime Crime

Habit 4: Forget staging

Efficient commerce teams cut the middleman between their strategic vision and the customer experience. They don’t wait for IT to bring Marketing’s plan to life on a separate server or risk that anything may fail in the push to production.

Instead, they take advantage of live preview capabilities within their own admin and thoroughly QA the form and functionality across pages and screen sizes -- instantly.

“The release functionality is absolutely critical -- the ability to preview your work, test your work, QA your work. What's particularly beneficial about the Workarea Release functionality is you can see not just homepage changes, but can actually click through and see your category page. You can see your product detail page. You can search for any typos that may have happened as a result of an import. You can rearrange product images on the PDP to make sure it's the right flow. I really allows you to have a comprehensive QA of the work you're going to release -- including mobile.”

Chrissie Webster, VP Ecommerce, Lime Crime

Live previews within the Workarea admin eliminate the unhappy surprises (and unhappy customers) that can result from staging-to-production mishaps.

“Before, things were literally seat-of-the-pants. We did have a staging environment but it's always that, ‘well, it looked good on staging.’ And we're like, ‘okay, well it's live.’ And it's like, ‘well then, now this whole section of category of flowers won't load,’ and ‘oh my God, we've got traffic running’ and panic and chaos and stressed out marketing tech teams.”

Raine O’Reilly, Senior Technical Project Manager, The Bouqs Company

Habit 5: Seize timely opportunities

When site administrators have full control of the ecommerce experience at their fingertips, they can be responsive to customer behavior, social trends and competitors’ moves in real time.

“When we were on other platforms, content updates were a nightmare because there was such a process and procedure to it. Okay, get out your calendar. It's May 1st. We need to have content up on May 27th. And there were 8 million steps and 8 million people that you needed to go through in order to execute that. 

With Workarea, if red dresses are trending on Twitter or it's New York Fashion Week and something comes down the runway that we happen to have in our collection, like fringe, we can do it the next hour, the next minute, the next ten minutes. Whenever we want to do it, we can. And that's why we like to call it on-demand content. It really helps us take things that are happening culturally, connect them with the brand, and then immediately be able to put that content out for people to consume.”

Amy Rapawy, SVP Marketing and Ecommerce, Rachel Roy

Ecommerce is dynamic. Highly effective teams spot trending products, categories, searches and react swiftly.  

“If there's a trend in a flower type that's selling out we can pivot and promote something else, or run a flash sale. And these are things that we don't have to wait for a tech team to implement. It’s all WYSIWYG. You can drag and drop. You can do it on the fly. You can schedule it. It's mobile-responsive. You can even split it out to a certain percentage and test it. It's a thing of beauty.”

Raine O’Reilly, Senior Technical Project Manager, The Bouqs Company

They also roll-out and test their tactics and validate their strategies in less time than it takes IT-dependent teams to change a simple banner. 

“One thing that really helps us out is we’re able to make changes in real time. In our old environment, if we wanted to change a promo, we'd make the change and have to wait for an overnight deploy and server reboot.

Today, if we decide we want to change an offer from 15% down to 10% and see what happens to the conversation rate at five o'clock on a Friday, we go in. We make the change. We look at the data the next day or on Monday morning and we know if it was a good decision or a bad decision, and we don't have to wait for IT to do anything. That's been hugely helpful, allowing us to be nimble and responsive and react.”

Jim Moore, VP of Marketing, Costume SuperCenter

Habit 6: Always know what’s up

Collaboration is King for fast-moving teams. Effective teams keep track of who did what, when, and how at all times.

Most ecommerce platforms force team members to work in the dark, and lack visibility into administrative activities and changes. 

Workarea keeps a full audit trail of changes made by any user with admin permissions. Activity Feeds provide the team with a full view of the history of an asset or Release, including changes, time and the administrator who updated it. Commenting allows for communication between team members, and Notifications give a view of recent updates in the system.

“The flexibility for the Release schedules for us was huge, and being able to set things up in advance on a calendar that everyone that could see. That was a pretty unique feature to Workarea that we didn't see across other vendors. We felt it was important for us to be able to see what other people are doing, what other people are planning. And also, to be able to go back in time and see what we had done as well. Calendar is a huge piece of functionality.”

Rachael Gelowtski, Dir MIS & Ecommerce, Olympia Sports

“It's no longer seat-of-the-pants, like ‘oh, who forgot to turn on or something off?’ It's ‘nope, we've got it scheduled. We can see who turned it on or off.’ Sometimes it's basic things that you forget about when you're new. Workarea just takes those things away.”

Raine O’Reilly, Senior Technical Project Manager, The Bouqs Company

Habit 7: Go home on time and sleep through the night

Highly effective commerce teams never scramble at the eleventh hour. They’re cool, calm and collected because they’re confident their site updates will publish exactly when they should.

“We've always pre-planned Releases because obviously neither myself nor any of my staff wants to get up in the middle of the night to shut off a promo has to go up at 3:00 AM or switch out our home pages based on a promotional period or a holiday.”

Lisa Dominish, Ecommerce Director, Rachel Roy

“We don't have to worry about keeping a team around and, ‘OK, it's time and let's do it.’ All the content's built out for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and all the other seasons through the Release system, and boom. They’re just published when we're ready for them to publish -- which is terrific.”

Jim Moore, VP of Marketing, Costume SuperCenter

Life’s too short to worry about performance and stability during a predicted or unexpected traffic spike. A scalable ecommerce platform lets teams babysit their analytics, not their uptime.

“I actually enjoy Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. I'm looking forward to them, whereas before we would sort of quote Game of Thrones and say, ‘Mother's Day is coming,’ because it was all hands on deck. When you're hosting your own servers for these things, you have to spin up the manpower to literally babysit a site for 24 hours a day. 

When you're trying to really challenge well-established competitors in the field, you need to be able to put your focus on doing what you do best, which is being strategic in the marketplace -- not worrying about whether or not the site's going to go down because you've got a TV commercial running or a spike in traffic.”

Raine O’Reilly, Senior Technical Project Manager, The Bouqs Company

Power up your team with Workarea

Ready to become a highly effective digital commerce enterprise? Free yourself from IT dependencies with a commerce platform that empowers non-technical business users to move at the speed of your customer. Get my Workarea demo.

Workarea

For 20+ years, Workarea has helped retailers and brands outpace their competition. Our retail roots tell us the common success factor across top retailers is peak team performance. With the right tools, teams reach their zenith and all is possible. When commerce, content and insights are working together, so is your team. Collaboration occurs, efficiency rises, and the output is not only measurable but ever-evolving.