How to Prepare Your Business for Ecommerce Success

A step-by-step guide to organizing your team, goals, and roadmap for a painless digital transformation

Time to read: 9 minutes

Holly Dresden
Regional Success Architect Senior Director

Your digital storefront isn’t the only thing that changes with ecommerce. When you create, uplevel, or extend your digital offering, the organizational structure of your business must change along with it (they don’t call it “digital transformation” for nothin’).

But all that change pays off — in the form of improved operational efficiency, faster time to market, and the ability to meet customer expectations. In fact, digitally mature companies are about three times more likely to report annual net revenue growth and net profit margins significantly above their industry average.

In the midst of all the change, this guide will walk you through important considerations and steps to help reorganize your teams for commerce success.

Step 1: Assess how your business operates

Every brand is unique — so each one will have a different way of operating with ecommerce. Smaller ecommerce startups might have one team deciding storefront guidelines for the entire brand, while large companies may implement commerce initiatives that look and feel entirely different across each geography or line of business.

When evaluating your organization for ecommerce success, it’s best to first take a step back and look at how your business is currently structured — and how you envision its structure in the future.

First, consider how many brands you have and whether you operate in multiple geographies. It’s also important to identify your growth strategy (such as international aspirations) and any specific long-term goals that should be factored into your roadmap.

These considerations will help you determine which organizational model will work best for your business. In our research, brands typically fall into one of four organizational categories. Choose the category that best describes your business today (or where you want it to be in the future) to explore different considerations as you organize your teams for success:


Centralized model

The centralized model works best with one dedicated team coordinating all digital activities — like merchandising, marketing, SEO, analytics, and development — across business units. Most smaller ecommerce businesses deploy this model. For example, single brand direct-to-consumer (D2C) start-ups can deploy a centralized model to easily launch ecommerce early in their digital maturity.

Pros and cons of a centralized model:

A singular, focused team with a clear vision
Difficult to scale if and when you expand to new geographies or add new brands

Distributed model

For businesses with multiple brands, each business unit typically leads their own digital strategy and is only accountable for their own initiatives. Consider a large holding company with several distinctly different brands under one portfolio. With a distributed model, each brand can operate independently and each site can be managed separately — with no need for consistency in terms of UX design, features and functionality, and integrations. For a single brand operating in multiple geographies under a distributed model, teams in each region can act independently to create unique, localized commerce experiences.

Pros and cons of a distributed model:

Offers freedom for businesses with a diverse range of brands and geographies
May be difficult for brands that want a cohesive strategy across business units

Center of excellence

The center of excellence is typically a core team of digital specialists who test, deploy, and manage technologies — with marketing frequently at the forefront. This team's main focus is to create guidelines and best practices for all lines of business within the organization. The goal is to improve the customer experience and use digital to gain a competitive advantage.

Pros and cons of a center of excellence model:

Offers continuity for a diverse range of brands and geographies
Mandates cohesion across business units, which can hinder brand autonomy

Hybrid model

A hybrid approach takes the brand autonomy of the distributed model and combines it with the oversight and general guidance of a center of excellence. This creates an organizational structure that allows separate brands to have unique, exclusive experiences while adhering to best practices set by a centralized team of experts.

Pros and cons of a hybrid model:

Brands have strategic guidance but are still able to maintain autonomy
Potential for friction and costly overhead if brands don’t adopt recommendations

Preparing your brand for a new ecommerce initiative?

Unlock the next steps to learn how to:

  • Create a strong, detailed roadmap strategy that will keep you on course
  • Gauge development resources to accurately determine your timeline
  • Implement a successful change management strategy

Fill out the form to get detailed advice for your digital transformation.

Enter your first name
Enter your last name
Enter your title
Enter a valid email address
Enter a valid phone number
Select your country
By registering I confirm that I have read and agree to the Privacy Statement.
This is a required field


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


Going International? Tips for Global Ecommerce Expansion


Get timely updates and fresh ideas delivered to your inbox.