E-Commerce Intelligence – An Introduction

At the crossroads where web design and marketing meet, there is something called
eCommerce Intelligence, and if a designer takes this into consideration, he or she will be able to design a more successful website. Understanding the need for intelligence on the various factors of eCommerce ensures that the site that is designed effectively and captures the attention of shoppers.

Ecommerce Intelligence – the Core Concepts

First and foremost, let us establish the fact that eCommerce Intelligence is not the same thing as Business Intelligence. But, as a designer, you will need to use this both forms of intelligence to design a website. Your website is going to sell products and services, and given that your customer base may be spread across the globe, knowing what you want to achieve, matters.

This is why, before you start working on your project, you need to forget about details such as designing aesthetics and the elements that you want to use. Actually, you need to think about everything else other than design. Surprised? Don’t be! That is because designing an eCommerce website is not just about the technicalities and the creatives. It is about a number of other things as well. These “things” come under the umbrella term of ‘eCommerce intelligence’.

Let’s take a closer look at this term and some of the aspects that it covers.

Understanding the Needs and Objectives of the Merchant

The merchant, your client, wants you to design a shopping website. While this is true, it is a rather simplistic way to look at it. There are many more facets to the needs and objectives of the merchants. As a designer who wants to meet the expectations of the client, you must get a thorough understanding of what the clients really wants because really and truly this may even differ from what they are saying that they want.

Herein, you need to think about the specifics. Here are some questions that you need to ask your client to elicit their true needs:

  • What is the your target demographic? Do you have an idea about the age group, gender, their interests and preferences etc.?
  • What consists your product portfolio and how will it benefit the target audience?
  • What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for your product/s?
  • What is your quantitative objective?, if any. (This is with respect to the conversion rate that your clients wants to target and the sales in a calendar year)
  • What is the level of competition that your products will face in the market?
  • Who are your main competitors?

Answers to these questions and others will help you understand your client’s requirements in a complete manner. Remember, you will need to ask them questions about anything and everything that you think is relevant to the project. Very often you will find that one question will lead to another and what started off as a rigid questionnaire would evolve into a conversation. While this is good, since the client would be able to clarify and shed light on areas they would not have mentioned, be careful to elicit what you deem are crucial answers. Keep the conversation on topic and in such a way that it answers the core areas that you want to explore.

Do Your Own Research

This is another element of eCommerce intelligence. You have gathered information from your client’s point of view, but now you need to get more information, this time from the designer’s perspective. What this means is that you need to put on your designer’s cap, and start doing your own bit of research. If the client has talked to you about his/her target demographic, you will need to find out about the kind of website these people frequent, and what is it that they like and dislike about these websites, in terms of design.

If the client mentions their competitor websites, then take a close look at them and see where they are going wrong, and more importantly, what they are doing right. Research helps you draw inspiration from the eCommerce websites that cater to the same domain and target audience that you want to cater to, and are doing a good job of it. Solid research is at the root of all successful web design activity, so it is absolutely necessary that you do not miss out on it.

Design Strategization

What will work and what won’t, in terms of design elements and aesthetics is completely dependent on your selection of the said design elements. Now, the problem lies in the fact that sometimes your website will be catering to a diverse demographic. This essentially means that you will find yourself in a situation wherein you might not be able to please everybody, without thinking your designing through.

So, strategize your design. How will you do that?

Say, your target audience is the college crowd. Your design should showcase vitality, energy and passion. Everything that you use must be in line with the latest college trends; so if you want to pick a color, something bright and lively might do the trick. If it is images that you are looking at, then smiling faces, young people having fun or perhaps performing some fun activity, will definitely be a good idea. This is just a very small example of how you can zero in on the designs that are relevant in terms of the target audience and also the purpose of the website.

Designing to be found

Users should be able to find your site. What this essentially means is that your site needs to be Search Engine Optimized. So, when you are designing a site, keep one eye out on its need for optimization. For example if you are designing the navigation, make sure that the structure is something that is not too complex for an algorithm to follow. Instead of using images for your links, use text whenever you can. This is one of the better ways of ensuring that your website is Search engine friendly. Lucky for us, there is an overlap between good usability and SEO practices.

You need to start thinking about this aspect much before you actually begin designing the site. When you are conceptualizing the layout or even wire framing, keep the user and the search engine in mind. After all, your website is not going to exist in a vacuum and if you want it to be found, you must be able to market it well.

To Conclude

ECommerce intelligence is all about understanding the market of your website and its various push and pulls, and keeping all this information in mind while designing your website. Website design is never easy, and here I am talking about designing a usable website that is highly effective when it comes to its conversion ratio. There are plenty of factors that come into play and which have to be given their due before you are able to design an awesome site that is usable and very profitable.