E-Commerce Strategies – Product Roadmap and the eCommerce Cycle

Product Roadmap: the eCommerce Cycle and Beyond

Here is the complete list of steps your group will take to get your product to market, sell it, and measure its success. Many of these we will be able to practice hands-on. Some others will have to remain hypothetical, since we have no real product to sell.

Part 1 – Brainstorming the Product

  • Define the Product

Blog Assignment: “Brainstorming the Product”

Create a single blog post by a single student for the group, and list all the group members.

As a group of 3 to 5 students, create a new product that will take advantage of accelerated consumer adoption. Come up with a brand name and a product name (which may be the same but might not.)

Answer the following questions as you work together and do some research. Use plenty of subheadings to separate your content.

  • PRODUCT
    What kind of product will you create?
  • RATIONALE
    Why do you think it will enjoy accelerated consumer adoption?
  • CONSUMER COLLABORATION
    How might you leverage consumer collaboration to launch your new product? In other words, how can you brand involve consumers in the product design, development, or marketing processes?

Part 2 – Early Planning for Product Launch

  • Identify Your Audience
  • Define Your Brand
  • Create Brand Goals
  • Perform Keyword Research

Blog Assignment: “Early Planning for Product Launch”

Create a single blog post by a single student for the group, and list all the group members.

Continue working with your group of 3 to 5 students from last week.

Address the following for the product you are developing. Use plenty of subheadings to separate your content.

  • AUDIENCE
    Who is your target audience? Describe their demographics in terms of age range, socioeconomic status, race, sex, political affiliation, or whatever is appropriate.
    What type of person is most likely to be first to buy your product?
  • BRAND
    What brand promise are you going to make to the consumer?
  • BRAND GOALS
    What are your goals for this brand and product?
  • KEYWORD PHRASES
    Define and refine 6-10 potential SEO/SEM key phrases for your product.
    What are the key phrases each of your team members will be researching this week?
  • LOGO
    Design a brand logo and post it. Include a product logo too if it is distinct from the brand logo.

Part 3 – Strategy

  • Team Roles
  • Define Product Pricing and Options
  • Plan Fulfillment, Inventory, and Warehousing
  • Design and Build Online Store

Part A) Group Assignment: “Create Online Store”

Design and begin building your online store as a team.

  1. Create a new blog account on this website, but for your brand instead of an individual student. Start by having a team member log in their blog. Then click this link to sign up for a new blog under that login (the team member may want to change his or her password so that the store login can be shared with all team members without revealing a personal favorite password).
  2. Activate WooCommerce.
  3. Select and activate a (free) WooCommerce theme.
  4. Integrate your logo into the theme’s header if possible. Match the theme’s colors to your brand colors if possible.
  5. Bounce around in WooCommerce and familiarize yourselves with the various components of WooCommerce, including payment processing.
  6. Add a very simple entry for your flagship product: name, description, price, category, and featured image. Don’t worry about options and variations yet.

Part B) Blog Assignment: “Business Plan”

Create a single blog post by a single student for the group, and list all the group members.

Put together a miniature business plan this week. It will include the following elements of E-commerce strategy:

Team Roles

Give each of your group members a meaningful title. At the very least, identify who will be:

  • CEO (Chief Executive Officer)
    This person will listen to all stakeholders but be the ultimate decision-maker for the direction of the brand.
  • Vice President of Marketing
    This person will direct all marketing activities online and off.
  • Vice President of Web Services
    This person will collect and analyze data about online customer engagement.
  • Vice President of Business Development
    This person will direct strategies for the future of the brand, based on the data about past performance.
Define Product Pricing and Options
  • What will be your flagship product and what is its price?
  • What variations will be available at what prices?
  • What accessories can you offer and at what prices?
Manufacture, Fulfillment, Inventory, and Warehousing
  • Where and how will the products be manufactured?
  • How much product or product components will need to be warehoused?
  • Will your company build its own warehouses, or outsource this storage?
  • How will you keep and accurate inventory record?
  • How will your product get to the consumer once it is ordered (fulfillment)?
Online Store
  1. Take a screenshot of the current state of your store’s home page (at the /shop/ address on your brand’s site).
  2. Post the screenshot along with the full /shop/ URL.

This will take some research ahead of time and along the way!

Part 4 – Technological Factors

Create a single blog post by a single student for the group, and list all the group members.

Part A) Group Assignment: “Build Online Store”

Continue building your online store as a team:

  1. Add variations to your flagship product. Put some number in for your inventory.
  2. Add more products that complement or enhance your flagship product. Enter inventory numbers for these.
  3. Go to Settings > Reading and set your home page as the static page called Shop.
  4. Go to WooCommerce > Settings > General and make sure the prices will be shown in U.S. dollars.
  5. Go to WooCommerce > Settings > Tax and enable taxes
  6. Go to WooCommerce > Settings > Shipping and then enable and set up a few shipping options
  7. “Hire” a member from each of the others team to test purchases on your store. Note any changes that should be made.
  8. I have installed WordPress SEO by Yoast. Go back into each product listing and look for the box for this tool under your product description. Try editing this area (and your product details) until you get a green dot for SEO in the Publish panel.

Part B) Blog Assignment: “Store Progress Report”

Write a blog post summarizing how your team accomplished the steps above. Include the process and results from your user testing.

Part 5 – Plan for Awareness

  • Create Brand Collateral
  • Create Advertising Collateral
  • Create a Social Presence

Part A) Group Assignment: “Design Marketing Pieces”

Continue building your visual brand as a team:

  • Write a contextual creative brief that identifies the contexts in which you’re mostly likely to find your target markets. Describe what kind of marketing message to use in each context.
  • Create a final version of your brand logo if needed.
  • Create separate logo(s) for your products, if relevant. (Optional)
  • Design two banner ads in the image editing program of your choice:
    • A leaderboard at 728x90px
    • A medium rectangle at 300x250px
  • Create a Facebook fan page for your brand. Put in some basic information, like a company description and an (imaginary) city and web address.
  • Design a 180x180px square brand image for the page and upload it to the page as its profile image.
  • Design a “cover photo” at 851x315px; upload it to the page as its cover photo.

Part B) Blog Assignment: “Reveal Your Assets”

Write a blog post that displays each of the marketing pieces you designed this week:

  • contextual creative brief
  • final brand logo
  • any separate product logos, if relevant
  • banner ads; for each, identify the appropriate context according to your contextual creative brief
  • link to your Facebook page
  • Facebook page images: profile and cover

Identify which team member created each piece.

Part 6 – Advertise and Sell

As a team, decide on the following. Write a blog post with your plans to advertise and sell.

  • Marketing KPIs
    Create a list of 5 to 10 KPIs that are the most critical for your business success.
    For example, what conversions should you measure?
  • Marketing Campaign
    Describe your initial marketing campaign.
    What will you do both online and offline to generate brand awareness?
    How will this help meet your KPIs?
  • Social Strategy
    What mix of content will you post to your Facebook page?
    Do some research about social media strategy for your industry first.
    How will this help meet your KPIs?

Post a few relevant pieces of content to your Facebook page and provide a link to it on your blog again.

Identify each of your team members and what role each played.

Part 7 – Mobile Marketing

As a team, develop a mobile marketing strategy for your product.

In a blog post, describe what you might do to provide a unique, mobile-tailored, and branded experience for consumers.

Here are some examples of prompts (not all might apply to your product):

  • What could you send via SMS texts, and how frequently?
  • What kind of videos might your team produce for YouTube viewers?
  • Describe the plot/storyboard of a 30-second pre-video ad on YouTube.
  • How should your mobile website differ from your desktop version?
  • Can your mobile strategy make use of location-based/proximity marketing, and how?
  • What kind of specialty app could you make that differs from your main website experience?
  • Research which metrics are relevant to mobile marketing. Which will you use, and why?

Use subheadings to separate the different portions of your strategy.

Identify each of your team members and what role each played in this effort.

Part 8 – Ethical and Security Challenges

Write a single blog post that responds to the following ethical and security challenges.

  • Privacy Policy
    Research how to make a privacy policy for your e-Commerce website. Create a new page on your brand’s website and write your own Privacy Policy there. While there are templates available out there, they are often riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. So be sure to careful comb through what you make, so it is free of any errors or inaccuracies. Also be sure to address the issues specific to your particular industry and business model. I can help you get your privacy policy added to your site’s navigation menu, if it does not appear automatically.
  • Security
    Research what kind of security issues there are for your particular industry. What steps will your company take to protect consumer privacy and financial data?
    Identify what kinds of challenges hackers bring to an e-Commerce site. What steps will you take to protect your site from these breach attempts?

Include a link to your sales site again.

Identify each of your team members and what role each played in this effort.