E-commerce 2022: Take five – by April Strategy’s Jonathan C Lovatt-Young and Brian Galligan

April Strategy’s Jonathan C Lovatt-Young and Brian Galligan list the five ‘secret sauce’ ingredients to cook up e-commerce transformation heaven

By Brian Galligan (pictured), regional director, April Strategy MENA (with input from Jonathan C. Lovatt-Young, experience strategist, associate at April Strategy)

Before you get stuck into the juicy visual part of your e-commerce design there’s a mandatory set of activities that need undertaking. 

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Sure, you can ignore them. Both routes will end up with a beautiful new customer experience but with one difference. The strategic path will deliver double-digit conversion. The opinion-based route will be like a firework: everyone will ooo and ahhh, but it’s short lived and nothing will actually change. Apart from six months later, when you’ll need to call in the experts to pick apart why your commerce isn’t providing, well, commerce.

1. RACI – the responsible, accountable, consulted and informed responsibility assignment matrix.

How boring. Thinking about all the stakeholders in the entire organisation isn’t exactly exciting work. But ignore it or do it slapdash and from the outset you’ll be in trouble. Those hearts and minds aren’t going to win themselves. Nor is it a token ‘bring them for the journey’. Involving your stakeholders in a transformation based in action research means they all have skin in the game. What’s action research? It’s the process of multiple iterations of actually involving actors (customers, employees, suppliers) in the process to hone the experience. 


1.  Make a list and get to the bottom of political allegiances.

2. Circulate and ensure everyone knows their role and capture any more that are missing.

3. Hold a kickoff to describe the outcome of the project to get everyone on the same page (aligned, if you speak business).

2. Data.

Knowing what you have and how sophisticated the setup (and being honest) is crucial. Your data is the lifeblood of your platform. It’s likely to be one of two environments – data, what’s that? Or held together with string and Sellotape. You might have vanity metrics – for example, what volume of visitors you have. It’s largely meaningless. You need to know the ‘as-is’ state so you can plan on what’s needed in your ‘to-be’ state. Get it right and all the magic happens. Ignore it and nothing changes.


1. Conduct an audit of your data sources for your platform (e.g Google Analytics) and products (e.g product information management).

2. Understand the impact on conversion – channel, behaviour, device and media.

3. Customers.

All organisations think they know their customers. In reality, for most it’s all assumptions with a blend of truths and incorrect hypotheses. By understanding what your customers’ needs and goals are, they can be designed for. And by understanding their pain points, you might be able to solve some of them to be of more use. It can be a hard conversation to have in the organisation as it exposes many processes and people who should know, in detail, the answers in order to execute their role properly.


1. Undertake group empathy mapping to expose how many assumptions there are in the business and facilitate a research-based approach.

2. Create research that includes a segment-informed screener, an entire lifecycle (yes, that does include ownership and support)

3. Produce an activation pack of personas detailing mandatory needs, pain points and thought-starters.

4. Hold show-and-tell sessions across the business to ensure clients widely understood and define what employees will start, stop and continue doing – helping the entire organisation become more customer-focused.

4. Differentiation.

You could focus on a million things. You need to concentrate on the things that bring your brand strategy to life. That’s not your colours, it’s your values and those that you can actively demonstrate you do, and do better than the competition. If you have some neutral and largely meaningless values, such as ‘simple’, you’re going to need to get that brand house in order before cranking with your digital strategy. 


1. Review your brand strategy to understand how the values are actively experienced and how they are of value to your customers.

2. Across your entire customer journey, review the specific touchpoints where the values can be applied. It’s likely to be about 10 out of 200 touchpoints. 

3. Use that blunt weapon to dissolve any strategies that don’t align to these moments.

5. Prioritisation.

Once you have understood the size of the transformation task, you’re going to be overwhelmed with the number of requirements. It’s not a case of simply organising them in a linear timeline. You need to review each one through multiple lenses of value and feasibility. This works best when a suite of responsible scorers from across operations, technology, customer experience and commercial teams come together.


1. Create a single-candidate backlog of all potential features and requirements.

2. Allocate scoring roles to representatives for customer, brand, habit-formation, business, operations and technology.

3. Process the whole set to understand what is both valuable and feasible.

4. Look for groups of requirements that naturally fit together and in sequence

5. Share the roadmap across the business with the rationale.