Time for Detective Work
So, which departments are involved? Basically, follow the money. Ask yourself what's needed to acquire, take, and process an order—and what after-sale support is necessary. Which departments or personnel are involved? In other words, what are the key managerial components of eCommerce?
Start with the goals and objectives that your boss thinks the company eCommerce initiative should achieve. Then consider the online storefront itself. This is the responsibility of the web development department, whose role is to design and program the storefront according to your specifications. Finally, the company IT department will set up the necessary servers and payment solutions to take and process orders.
Using the information you obtain in interviews with these people and departments, you can create three "briefs" of data:
- The strategic brief tells you what your boss wants for an online storefront. The strategic brief should list competitive web sites, analyze what your boss or company executive likes or dislikes about each site, and report how he or she thinks that your site should compete. This brief should also provide information regarding legal issues, copyrights, trademarks, or other do's and don'ts.
- The creative brief tells the web developers how the storefront should look. The creative brief forms the guidelines of the storefront in regard to voice or style of the site, color preferences, logo identifiers, multimedia or streaming media use, recommended visuals, and theme (if any).
- The technical brief tells the IT people what you expect the storefront to do. The technical brief asks what kind of hosting and bandwidth should be available for the web site. If the site will be hosted on a high-bandwidth connection, the site can be more graphics-intensive and contain streaming media presentations. If not, the site should be designed with more fast-loading text than images.
I've provided some samples of the three briefs (in PDF format) for you to use as templates. Modify each brief to fit your company's eCommerce initiative.
But the briefs aren't all you need.
As an eCommerce manager, you must interface with other company departments and personnel. With the marketing department, you'll coordinate online and offline promotion of the storefront. Then there's order processing and shipping, and customer service. Too often, a business will spend all its time on the design and functionality of its eCommerce web site, neglecting the all-important back-end processes that are necessary to complete a sale and, more importantly, to serve the customer. Customers may have questions or problems with an order, or want to know the status of an order; a customer-friendly system has to be designed into the storefront from the very beginning. How will you serve the customer before, during, and after the sale? These are important questions to consider when designing your company storefront.