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The Minimum Viable Product Approach to Ecommerce Is a Game Changer — Here’s Why

The MVP strategy is one of the fastest ways to get a commerce experience up and running. Learn how to do it right.

A person holding a credit card in front of a laptop computer. MVP ecommerce
What is an MVP in ecommerce? Consider it the "fast track" of ecommerce deployments. [FreshSplash / Getty]

Timing is everything — especially when it comes to ecommerce. Every day your launch is delayed means missed revenue, so it’s critical to keep things on track with your build or implementation. One of the best (read: fastest) ways to get a new commerce experience up and running? Take a minimum viable product (MVP) ecommerce approach. 

What is an MVP in ecommerce? Consider it the “fast track” of ecommerce deployments. Teams focus early efforts on major features necessary for their business to operate ecommerce. Then, after the initial build, they work to improve, customize, and launch new features in phases.

For some brands, an ecommerce MVP might simply be a customer portal and the ability to track orders. For others, an MVP will include storefront, product search, payments, and order management. Either way, an MVP approach is a game-changer for brands that need a fast ROI and have little time to perfect everything on the wishlist. 

Here’s how to get it done successfully — and fast.

Determine your priorities

It’s critically important to prioritize the right capabilities when building an MVP ecommerce plan. To separate table stakes from nice-to-have features, invest time in discovery. What do your customers — and your teams — consider make-or-break for a new ecommerce experience? Consider these common aspects of the shopper experience and get input from key stakeholders to determine what’s necessary for each:

  • Search & Explore: The easier it is for shoppers to find products, the more you’ll sell. Focus on the up-front browsing experience — including navigation, landing pages, categories, and recommendations. Consider implementing AI tools from the get-go to automate merchandising and build revenue faster.
  • Path to Purchase: A simplified purchase workflow is key to conversion. According to Accenture, 87% of online shoppers will abandon their carts if checkout is complex, and 55% will abandon the retailer completely. Get your teams’ input and research best practices for product detail pages, cart, and the checkout flow.
  • Account & Service: The customer journey doesn’t end after a purchase. Most customers (86%) say that the post-purchase experience is fundamental to their decisions to buy again. Consider what’s necessary for a positive experience, including customer account portals, returns workflows, and order management.  

Many brands hire a product manager during the discovery phase to serve as the liaison between teams, gather requirements, and champion prioritization. Post-launch, your ecommerce product manager will likely be the point person when it comes to developing the optimal customer experience. They will advocate for the right functionalities, customizations, and improvements to ensure the best possible experiences on your site.  

A successful MVP approach will be data-driven and agile. This means establishing the right KPIs and planning regular site performance reviews.

Track key metrics and optimize for MVP ecommerce success

A successful MVP approach will be data-driven and agile. This means establishing the right key performance indications (KPIs) and planning regular site performance reviews — then making adjustments in real-time. 

For starters, track your cart abandonment rate (and the point in the workflow when most visitors bounce), conversion rate, and average order value. These numbers will help you determine next steps. For example:

  • Are there friction points in your checkout flow? Look at your analytics to determine where you may be losing shoppers. Consider simplifying forms and order fields, offering guest checkout, and adding payment options.
  • Can you optimize product presentation and recommendations to increase order size? Make sure customers’ items are saved to their carts in case they leave your site. Many shoppers use the cart to save items for later, so this is an easy way to improve site experience.
  • Can you improve traffic quality and quantity to increase conversion rates? Your conversion rate is the number of transactions on your site divided by the number of visitors, multiplied by 100. If your visitors seem low, consider making changes to your SEO strategy, paid ads, and email campaigns. If transactions are low, work with your UX and design teams to improve user-friendliness.

Build a robust customer feedback loop 

If KPIs provide the direction of your improvement strategy, customer feedback steers the ship. Feedback, collected early and often, helps tell the story of the overall shopper experience on your site. This gives your team clear direction and guides decisions about which new innovations and improvements to focus on. In short: a robust feedback loop is the linchpin of a successful MVP ecommerce approach.

Don’t just wait for reviews to roll in — be proactive. 

Don’t just wait for reviews to roll in — be proactive. Implement user surveys, send post-purchase emails, and utilize live chat to obtain responses in real-time. (Bonus points if you offer incentives for survey completions, like discounts or small freebies.) It’s also key to ask the right questions at the right time to ensure that feedback is enhancing — not hindering — the shopper experience. 

Pro tip: Be transparent. A whopping 84% of customers say they want to know how a business will use their survey answers, but more than 75% say they rarely hear back about results or changes made. Tell shoppers that your development team will use their feedback to determine which new features to add or improve and you’ll be much more likely to get detailed, thoughtful survey responses. 

Why should customer feedback be a top priority?

  • Feedback can alert your teams to issues: Patterns of common negative feedback can effectively alert your team to the right fixes and updates to prioritize. 
  • Feedback helps source new ideas: It’s not just the negative reviews and survey results that drive change. Satisfied, loyal customers often have ideas, insights, and fresh perspectives about what would make their experience even better. 
  • Feedback makes your customers feel heard: The most important thing to do after collecting feedback? Listen. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, it’s critical to let customers know that you’re taking the right steps to address their concerns — or that you’re doing more of what they love!

Lauren Wallace is an editorial lead for Commerce Cloud. She’s written for B2C and B2B companies in many different industries — most recently cybersecurity and healthcare. When she’s not writing about commerce, you can typically find her outside running or biking around San Diego.

More by Lauren

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