The dynamics of changes in the internet technologies causes fact that new tools are constantly emerging, enabling the implementation of new solutions, as well as the improvement of existing ones. Its not only about extensions / libraries used in programming, but also about new trends in customer service.
The Castorama online store is a very good example of continuous modernization and improvement of the purchasing process, and thus also of the customer service process. One of the last modifications is the integration with the Central Statistical Office. At the stage of placing the order as a company, all you have to do is enter your tax identification number and the invoice data is collected from the Central Statistical Office’s database.
This useful solution saves time and significantly speeds up the completion of the purchase. There is no need to manually enter the invoice data. They are completed automatically in the registration form. Such a solutions create a competitive advantage not only for other e-commerce companies, but also for purchases made in a traditional way. If we would count how much time we lose queuing to the Customer Service point to receive an invoice, online shopping is more and more often the only reasonable one a convenient choice.
The value of the e-commerce market is constantly growing. None of the trading companies can ignore online sales. It is estimated that in 2017 its value will be at the level of EUR 7 billion, which means an increase of 104% compared to 2013. Regardless of whether we are just starting to run an e-commerce solution, or if we focus on building a competitive advantage, we must ensure a reliable and experienced implementation partner. One that, unlike most companies, does not react reactively, expecting that everything will be invented by the client. Also one that works with partnership approach with its clients. One that consults implemented solutions indicating weaknesses and strengths, and comes out with initiatives supporting the achievement of competitive advantage.
The Strix team as a company and implementation partner has achieved a lot. But despite the very good market position, we do not rest. This is precisely because our clients are also our partners who have trusted us. We draw conclusions from every cooperation with our business partners, and improve not only on the layer of business relations, the production process, but also the support during the transformation process of the customer organization.
On the basis of the experience, we can mention seven elements, which have a significant impact on the implementation of the project, with the expected level of quality. All parties involved in the implementation of the project want the Time-To-Market ratio to be as low as possible. In other words, we all want the invested financial outlays to start paying off by launching the sales as soon as possible.
After determining the MVP scope and collecting the requirements we decompose the project. What does it mean? We analyze the collected requirements and examine what impact they have on the Magento functionality, what are the potential threats and opportunities. Knowing Magento is not enough. First of all, we need to get to know our Partner’s processes well, that how the information about products will be sent to Magento, what they depend on, what are the specific solutions to be implemented and who they are intended for. We also need to know what is happening with orders placed in Magento, or how they are further processed by the Partner. Often at this stage there are a number of ideas on how to improve the implementation.
This process should be systematically repeated during the implementation in order to further clarify the requirements. Of course, the question arises, why decomposition is one of the key elements? The answer is complex. The first issue is to avoid the situation when developers can not do programming work due to the lack of detailed requirements. The second issue concerns the situation when developers misunderstand the requirements and will develop something that does not correspond to the goals.
The third element is integration work witch means adapting the API to the project needs. It is usually required to coordinate work in three areas – internal programming work, programming work carried out by the partner and the need to reorganize the partner’s internal processes / procedures. After the implementation of programming works within the framework of integration, very detailed tests should be carried out.
Integrations are the real heart of Magento. If you make a mistake here, then as a consequence, Magento may not have information about products, orders will not be processed by employees, and what’s worse, prices and inventory may be presented incorrectly or not at all. Since work on integration requires a lot of time, they should start as soon as possible.
The fourth element is server environments. They do not have to be available for implementation tema from the first days, but should appear as soon as possible in the production configuration. Sometimes we encounter situations when we receive servers just before the production launch of the store. After uploading Magento to the production environment, it suddenly turns out that there are errors. This is due to the differences between the configuration of the server delivered (configured by the hosting company according to its own standards), and the server configuration, on the basis of which the developers worked. In this situation, programmers must do an additional job by adapting Magento to the specific configuration of the server infrastructure. If the server infrastructure was delivered at the beginning of the implementation, we would avoid double the work of programmers and possible delays in the implementation of the project.
The fifth element is an attribute mapping. After analyzing the product information, we must name the attributes used by all products. In addition, it is also worth to check which attributes are displayed on individual store pages, and on the basis of which attributes actions are performed. The list of attributes is important on the integration part and helps to speed up the process.
The sixth element is the methodology in which the implementation is performed. Without a doubt when implementing e-commerce projects, Scrum is the best way to work. It is worth to mention that the key to implementing the project and completing it on time is strict adherence to the Scrum framework. What is particularly important is a very good understanding of the goals of all events occurring in Scrum.
The two most important are the Sprint Review and the Product Backlog Care. Through the Sprint Review, we maintain a high level of engagement of programmers in achieving the goal of the sprint and responsibility for work. In the end, during this meeting, the Development Team may, together with the Product Owner and Stakeholders, celebrate the achievement of the adopted goal or accept responsibility for the failure of the Sprint. From our own experience, we know that there is nothing more difficult for the programmer than an explanation from the Stakeholders why Sprint failed.The second important event is the Product Backlog Care. This event allows User Stories to be well prepared, which the Product Owner wants to be implemented in the near future. Here, too, we verify with a high accuracy the potential impact of the implemented modifications on the various Magento modules. This event is such a decomposition in a micro scale. If one of the Scrum roles starts to show lower involvement while working, this is a serious threat to the project. In such a situation, for the benefit of the project, the low involvement should be eliminated as soon as possible.
The last and seventh important element is the communication. At every stage of implementation, the communication must be carried out at a high level. This approach makes the entire project implementation process transparent for each party. Even if there are situations threatening the implementation of the project, with good communication, you can work out the right solutions. Therefore, it is unacceptable when one of the parties ceases to exhibit the same level of communication. This results in delays in the implementation of tasks, misinterpretation and even understatements affecting further cooperation.