The importance of an ecommerce discovery session

For those who may be planning their first ecommerce website or migrating an existing site to another platform, getting everything in place before a line of code is written is vital. This is where a discovery session comes in.

What is a Discovery Session

The Discovery Sessions is a workshop or series of workshops designs to understand the entire scope of an ecommerce project and the requirements within it. This includes:

  • Definition of commercial objectives
  • Ecommerce platform selection
  • Website out-of-the-box requirements
  • Custom requirements
  • 3rd party extensions requirement
  • Integration requirements, such as ERP, Warehouse management, PIM etc
  • Design requirements
  • Technology requirements

These requirements are gathered and documented in a format to understand whether they need to be included in the scope of the project, can wait for a further iteration or are not required.

Who should attend the workshops?

Any relevant stakeholder within the business who will be impacted by the ecommerce website should attend. This typically includes:

  • Ecommerce team
  • Finance team
  • Warehouse team
  • Customer service team
  • Design team
  • C suite

Why is this important?

Anyone who has ever been involved with an ecommerce website build will tell you that even if it went well, there were bumps along the road. For the builds that do not go well, it can often be traced back to poor requirements gathering from the beginning. The result of this is developers are unsure what to build and designer unsure what direction they should take.

It’s also common place that when not all stakeholders are involved in the discovery sessions, it becomes clear that midway through the build, a showstopper piece of functionality has been left out and the site cannot go live without it.

The upshot of all this is that when these builds go wrong, the first things to be blown out of the water are the timescales and budget.

If a well defined Discovery Session takes place there are huge benefits to the project:

  • All stakeholders have had their input into what is required in the build
  • A consensus on which functionality is required for launch (MVP) and which can wait for future deployments can be achieved
  • The ecommerce platform can be defined at an early stage and all parties are aware of it’s pros and cons
  • Potential challenges with 3rd party platforms or integration requirements can be flagged and addressed
  • The development house will be able to provide a much more accurate quote and timescale for the build by using this documentation
  • And finally, whilst nothing will ever guarantee a smooth build, the discovery session will give clients the best chance of getting the ecommerce website they want, and the time they wanted and for the cost they agreed.