If you already have or subscribe to an e-commerce infrastructure and you are considering major changes or re-platforming, it’s tempting to jump in and get proposals from a number of platforms and SIs, evaluate those, and pick a winner and move forward. But depending upon your situation and platform, it’s likely that you’ll actually speed up the process and ensure a higher ROI by engaging in some audit activities first.
We perform a number of audits for many different types of clients, and although the scope is varied and dependent on the client’s business and industry, there is a foundational framework that we can share for you to learn from. Hopefully this framework is helpful to e-commerce merchants that are beginning to formulate their plans for 2022.
Ideally an audit includes the following aspects of an e-commerce operation:
Customer Service Ticket Review
What your site visitors and customers think is most important, so reviewing any customer service data is a great activity. This can lead to more detailed investigation of aspects of the operation that need improvement. Customer Service ticket review should include both call center and website-sourced tickets; typically the more serious / difficult issues that arise from site performance are called-in versus a user simply filling out a web form. Often it’s a good idea to get direct input from your CS team too – they’ll likely have key issues ready to discuss based on what they deal with most.
Google Analytics Site Usage Review
Use GA to review flows and performance. It can also help you dig deeper on issues flushed out in your customer service ticket review. Performance issues can be flagged and then analyzed separately with 3rd party tools available especially for that. A deeper analysis of Google Analytics may be warranted if the audit is digging into marketing performance, but the ability to analyze and audit marketing performance will depend upon how many marketing metrics (Site Conversion Rate, ROAS etc.) are properly tracked.
Site or Application Performance Evaluation
Use the tools that are available to look at site speed, time to checkout, abandoned cart metrics and more. Deploy some folks to checkout on their own to validate any parts of the flow or process that seem to be bogged down – then identify the causes and fix them. The last two are the hardest part but are worth the time to spend and at a minimum an audit needs to identify those so they can be prioritized
Profit Margin Analysis / Cost of Sales
This is more of an accounting exercise than an e-commerce infrastructure exercise but it’s important to identify any parts of your experience or system that might be contributing to lagging profits. Many e-commerce merchants can get focused on total revenue and they forget about profit and how to increase profitable sales. Looking at the profitability of just the top ten sellers can expose a lot of opportunity while also highlighting where some unexpected damage to your bottom line might be happening.
The “SWOT” approach is an ages-old, high-level approach to reviewing a business; and it’s easy. Get some of the major stakeholders together, create a grid on a whiteboard and document the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats that are a part of the business as it is currently composed.
The Bottom Line
Use these areas of focus as a launchpad to compose an audit plan tailored to your business. Consider including a 3rd party in the process to define it and execute it; it will keep the exercise unbiased and it will help to quickly flush out the threats and the opportunities for your business before you get started on any kind of major project. If you’d like to talk more about auditing your site, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Bonus: Here’s a great article from payment processor app BOLT on 21+ KPIs that matter for e-commerce merchants