Article (Business Insider): 6 Things CIOs of E-commerce Companies Ought to Do

Originally published on Business Insider India – | Written by Ankush Tiwari, MD-India & SVP-Engineering, Mobiliya Technologies on 27 July 2015

Image credit: Indiatimes
“If you make a customer unhappy they won’t tell five friends, they tell 5000 friends”. A superb quote by Amazon Founder & CEO Jeff Bezos that finds resonance among all CEOs, CIOs, CTOs and the Czars of the ecommerce industry. With global ecommerce revenue poised to touch $2.36 trillion by 2018, there is no doubt that the action is only set to become bigger. For CIOs, who have been in the thick of things for some time now, it is time to unleash yet another wave of transformation vis-a-vis the rapidly changing ecommerce trends and consumer behaviour.
So, here are some key things that you must bear in mind before you start at the drawing board to draw up the fab master plan for the future:Hire an Engineering Head:
The smart CIO that you are, I trust that you already have this one in place. But just in case you do not, convince your CEO to hire one. An engineering head will be your main handle to manage the growing number of users and ensure that your site experience remains unbroken at all times. So the next time your marketing team devises the “Big Sales Week” or a “Mad Discounts Day” or “Because Everyone Has a Big Sale”, your engineering head will be the one spending sleepless nights before, during and after the sale to make sure that the site does not go down. You need a competent hand to manage the infrastructure, source talent and check and iron out every little detail of your online store.

Remember, in online sales, you cannot “Not” have a user experience. UX is your virtual shopping concierge; one bad experience and your customer will swear never to return. Thus, you need UX experts who can distinguish between a great design and a usable design. You don’t need people who create beautiful looking dummies that make shoppers search the hell out for every product or make you click 1000 times just to buy a pair of scissors. It is surprising that in an age when 1-click purchases are becoming the norm, we still have sites that make users fill numerous sign up and purchase forms that frustrate the users no end. So, for a smart CIO, putting a razor sharp UX team in place is a task no less important than living.

Pay Attention to Mobile Commerce:
With m-commerce set to touch $217 billion by 2019, as an ecommerce CIO, you ignore it at your own peril. In fact, already several big ecommerce corps (Indian companies like Flipkart & Myntra) are taking the app-only route, acknowledging the age of the mobile device becoming the central purchasing channel. While the app-only route may seem to be bit drastic, for CIOs it is critical to understand the top contributing channels and tailor their products and experiences accordingly. Almost 30% of the mobile shoppers abandon a transaction if the experience is not mobile optimized. A figure too alarming to ignore.

Mobile-Based Processes:
Ecommerce is one domain that can truly help employees leverage the power of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). If your employees are still stuck with just checking emails on personal mobile devices under the name of BYOD, you are not going too far. As a CIO, you need to equip your employee devices with smart and secure mobile platforms and work apps that can drive workflows. For e.g. Enable delivery personnel to check all orders in real-time, allow them to pick up new orders and immediately mark/update the delivery status and even transfer it to fellow staff in case of any emergency. Going a step further, your systems should track the route covered by every field staff, the total distance travelled and finally tie it up with the reimbursements entitled to every staff member.

Field Force Connect:
With a lot of onus lying on the field staff, delivery chain and time of delivery, a strong mechanism connecting the field force with the office staff is a must. IT teams must establish systems that allow them to constantly stay in touch with the field staff in the form of one-way messaging, sharing documents, news feeds and sharing audio & video content, to ensure targeted information sharing and driving real-time decision making.

Well, this is kinda obvious, isn’t it? Putting in the most advanced analytics systems is at the core of every ecommerce company. As a CIO, you should think of putting together multiple analytical tools to get the most precise data about every aspect – advertising and marketing spends & ROI, on-site customer behaviour, most & least performing products, funnel drop-out ratio and total conversions every day. While the data is not only critical to make informed business decisions, it forms the base of tailoring products and choosing the most precise channel and medium to make it accessible for your customers. So if you see that you have a higher chance of selling those new designer tees through mobile devices because there are more people using the mobile coupons, then you might as well include it in the app than the website version.

For a CIO, these are probably the most exciting and challenging times ever. With technologies, consumer preferences and expectations changing almost every day, staying ahead of the game is not a choice but a need.


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