With behemoths like Amazon and Apple setting the bar for customer experience, online shoppers today expect their favorite brands to offer the same sophisticated buying experience from their favorite online stores.
For companies looking to scale a B2B or B2C eCommerce business and provide an exceptional customer experience like the aforementioned highly successful tech companies do, a DevOps strategy proves to be an operational advantage.
What is DevOps?
While there’s much debate about what exactly it means to incorporate DevOps into your organization, I think it can be best described as the bridge between agile development and operational excellence. Others say it’s the marriage of agile development and operations teams.
DevOps, by definition, includes a continuous model of integration, delivery, deployment and integrative feedback. This methodology has proven to enable software development teams to build, test and deploy applications and enhancements in a faster manner when compared to less agile teams.
Is it really worth the time, money and resources to build an agile DevOps team for your B2B or B2C eCommerce businesses? While the answer to this question depends on critical factors like your growth plan, types of audiences and channels you serve, DevOps does historically provide companies with a competitive edge.
The One Thing You Need to Have to Get Started with DevOps
If we shift away from business goals, audiences and whether you need DevOps as a competitive advantage, I think the most important thing you and your team need to have is an open mind.
If you don’t want to be nimble as a company or you believe that you already have the perfect product roadmap, DevOps isn’t for you. DevOps, more than anything else, is a philosophical approach that puts your audiences and customers first by allowing integrative feedback into the development process.
DevOps requires that you and your development teams accept that they may not have all the answers or ideal solutions to improve your product. This approach requires everyone be on board with this approach and that product development and IT leaders are in agreement and are willing to agree on and publish a process on how it will work at your company.
What are the Steps of the DevOps Process?
- As expected, a solid DevOps cycle begins (top, center image) with continuous business planning. In this stage, you’ll list the objectives that your application must deliver. This stage is also when you define what your app must do for the consumer or B2B buyer or both.
In the collaborative development phase, your development team begins by drafting a plan and assigning programming tasks.
Once code is complete, submit it to source control for review. Once reviewed, it is automatically built and deployed to integration and test environments where automated and manual testing is performed to verify the quality of the potential release.
Continuous release and deploy to production environments once quality gates have been met during step three.
Continuous monitoring is required to catch any potential problems or new bugs after a release. This enables an organization to act quickly upon any potential issues that may arise before affecting live customers.
Customer feedback and optimization can provide insight into what improvements make sense to be made next.
How Will DevOps Help You Improve Your eCommerce Business?
From a high level, DevOps helps you to provide your eCommerce customers with an experience that is always improving and at a rapid rate.
Today, many B2B software companies have either a community or a wiki, where users can submit suggestions and view trending topics. In a DevOps-friendly environment, someone on the product team is reviewing these to determine if there are frequently mentioned requests or unique ones that may make sense to enhance your product.
In the case of the consumer eCommerce experience, post-order surveys (and yes, you should absolutely send these) sent via email might indicate a serious problem shoppers have with your UX or how you help them track their order and shipment.
In cases like this, DevOps enables your development team to shift gears and move up in priority urgently needed features versus when they appear on the product roadmap months later. Your customer base will see that you made efforts to make this happen quickly and this will help you start to build a community of brand fans.
Even if you have a proprietary, unique product and a beautifully branded website, consumers or buyers may source a similar, yet inferior product from a company with a better buying experience. In this scenario, DevOps indirectly can help you retain and attract new customers with an exceptional experience online.
In fact, the smoother the buying experience, the better your conversion rates will be. It also positively contributes to a higher ATV (Average Transaction Value) as well. By reviewing where in the buying process your customers bounce from your site or causes for cart abandonment, you can focus development resources towards improving those experiences.
If you can reduce cart abandonment and increase your ATV by prioritizing features or quickly repairing bugs within a DevOps organization, you’ve not only become nimble, but you’ve helped prioritize revenue.