By David Dennings, GM Platforms & Technology @ Surfstitch & Lisa Powell, Head of Retail Practice @ Amblique
SurfStitch scaled very quickly and in time our enhancements became our anchor, making further enhancements close to impossible on our previous platform. What we needed was a smarter platform that grew with us, integrated with hundreds of partners out of the gate and allowed us to be agile with optimising our customer experience and improve operational efficiencies.
We knew that being cloud based was the way to go to ensure we would be able to support our future growth requirements and to remove the need for us to re-platform every 3-5 years just to remain inline with customer and market expectations. The other key benefit to this approach was that we could operate with a leaner technical team, by sharing the responsibility of platform improvements and in turn allow us to focus on being better retailers.
The first step was to sit down as a business and decide what we needed to have versus what would be nice to have along with our expected timelines to get a new platform up and running. Once we knew what we wanted, it was not overly complicated to select a platform, but choosing a partner with the right experience and skill set was a little trickier.
We had set ourselves very aggressive timelines and needed a partner that could not only meet those timelines, but who would ensure we also ended up with a best of breed offering that converted better than our current offering from day one. With so many players in this space, we had to work hard and be diligent to ensure that we were getting the right partner for the right price and were comfortable with a team that we would be working with for years to come
This lead us to partner with Amblique as our Systems Integrator (SI) because of their proven track record for delivery as well as the comprehensive support & optimisation that they provide, supporting our business to be better in the digital space.
Additionally, we had to make sure that we were able to dedicate an internal team to be available to participate in the project build as well as manage BAU demands as required. To manage these challenges, we introduced a comprehensive set of processes that focused on empowering the team to communicate with our partners and act on changes to keep the process moving forward. Regular catch ups with our SI and project governance teams meant that we stayed on the same page and managed expectations around team output, expected functionality and our ability to meet our regular BAU commitments.
We emerged after a six month project, from signing to go-live with a version-less platform, serviced by a small internal team and supported, as required by our external SI. Technologies were greatly consolidated and we are now able to do things that we could never have imagined doing on our old system. It also means that we can now build out a much stronger digital roadmap with projects that we believe will deliver not only value to us as a business but provide a much greater shopping experience for our customers.
My biggest tips to someone embarking on the same journey are:
• Clearly understand your requirements, not just for now but into the future and not just related to digital but the overall business strategy and objectives
• Find and negotiate well with a respected and proven SI – check references thoroughly
• Ensure you do have the internal team(s) to make this happen
• Stay on scope and be tough on the business, everyone (and that is everyone) all the way to the top, must understand what the launch product is and what it will do
• Have the right planning after launch to make sure you can move straight into development phases, that are well planned and managed
• Try and stick with the ‘Keep It Simple’ approach and have an SI that encourages you to try and do this, as well as keeps you within scope and your timelines
Amblique is Australia’s industry leader in ecommerce and digital consulting, providing omni-channel strategies, retail practice and site optimisation services to help retailers and brand owners SELL MORE.
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