“Website operations” covers everything from up-time to payment systems and integration with fulfilment and logistics. It’s the under the cover stuff that isn’t immediately obvious to a customer but everyone sure notices if they stop working. Our engineering team has years of experience developing ecommerce solutions in Life Sciences, keeping large sites optimised and running well. From this experience, we’ve pulled together seven areas we think merchants should keep top of mind.
Nothing like a website outage to eat into sales forecasts – not only during the time of the outage; gaps in service performance can impact customer relationships for weeks and months after the outage. Auto-scaling resources, redundancy and planned for maintenance and resilience testing are key areas. Simplicity in architecture design and separation of concerns should guide planning and deployment.
- Samples & Demos
If your organisation offers samples or demonstration instruments, how do you manage the ordering, distribution and returns of these items? Do they need special handling, e.g. for configuration, before shipment, thus requiring a different process to zero-value sales? Without a system to administer demonstration equipment, this can tie service departments in knots and diver time away from more valuable service opportunities.
Do some client organisations operate procurement systems that your systems should integrate to? Some clients may be happy to leave their procurement system and navigate to your site, but others may prefer catalogues which are slotted directly into their environment. Integration based on standards such as Commerce XML (cXML) allow ecommerce operators to integrate widely and gain a potentially valuable additional channel.
- Publishing Workflow
How does a change in product description text get published to live? How does a new sales offer or a vendor-based promotion get published? For speed, some operators may simply edit pages in live (yikes!) and publish, but often organisations want to design a workflow that includes sign-off, time controls (publish after NN:NN:NN and remove after NN:NN:NN) and uses a robot to migrate changes from a test environment to the live environment. More complicated to set up but much more controllable.
Ecommerce installations often have multiple integrations, for payment processing, product content management, fulfilment & distribution and general ledger. Perhaps there is also an ERP integration or possibly other third-party systems. Generally, the wider the range of options, the better the match to diverse buyer needs, but the wide range of specialist systems creates more complexity for the site operator. Consider having the specialist system to do more and have the ecommerce platform do less.
Few applications generate as much useable data as ecommerce. Every action by every user on every page is potentially valuable data to capture, organise, visualise and exploit to create improved outcomes. Robust analytics are needed to capture user journeys before they reach the store, how they engage during their visit and what they do next. It’s hard to improve ecommerce outcomes without rich accurate data, especially when some instruments and supplies apply to very specialised user need states.
To discover optimal content, features, journeys and designs, Wyoming operate a Test, Measure, Learn methodology and it’s ideally suited to ecommerce installations. Taking data from customer visits, individually and in aggregate creates opportunities for testing – new placements, different sort orders, personalisation, new tools and features, design changes … all of these and more benefit from a structured testing methodology to make the most of ecommerce and create better outcomes.
Are you finding particular challenges in any of these areas of Website Operations in your Life Sciences business? Contact Wyoming for case studies, advice on applying these to your installation or simply for an informal chat to find out more.