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

Step 2: Determine your roadmap strategy

No matter which organizational model best suits your business, a strong and detailed ecommerce roadmap will help you stay on course and plan for success. To get there, determine what features and capabilities are must-haves for your minimum viable product, then decide which to invest your resources in as time goes on.

Begin with your overarching goals — define the details of your commerce growth initiatives and determine your measurements of success. Are you just starting out in your DTC journey and looking to launch a website, or are you a mature organization with goals of launching new initiatives, like buy online, pick up in store or a new mobile app?

Once you determine your goals, consider how aggressive your technology roadmap will need to be and how often you plan to make updates:


New implementation or redesign


Big projects like this start with selecting your platform solution and building out business requirements and desired features. You’ll need to consider each commerce functionality, like Shopping Cart design requirements and third-party integrations for things like ratings and reviews.

With a new implementation or redesign on the horizon, it makes sense to explore bringing in a seasoned systems integrator (SI) to help with the launch. If you are currently DTC, partnering with an SI on the project can help free up your internal development team to manage the day-to-day needs of the online business.

Moderate pace (monthly releases)

If significant changes to UX/UI, features, and functionality are needed to optimize your site experience, new releases will be more frequent — monthly or even weekly. A continuous delivery model may be needed to implement all of the requests coming from the business. Possible changes could include content and campaigns as well as new feature enhancements, services, and new third-party integrations.

Aggressive pace (weekly releases)

For brands looking to deploy new and innovative use cases (like headless applications and large-scale omnichannel initiatives), the pace of your roadmap will be fast and continuous. To support digital transformations like this, you’ll need to be aggressive in your approach — which requires an agile team savvy with data, analytics, and constant testing.

Step 3: Gauge your development resources

Once you’ve aligned your goals with your roadmap, it’s time to assess your development resources. Understanding your available resources is key to a successful commerce implementation — whether it’s a new launch or you’re optimizing an existing site. Your roadmap and timeline will hinge on your team’s skills, abilities, and bandwidth, so it’s important to know where you stand.

Which best describes your business when it comes to your current development resources?


Low development resources


For brands that have fewer development resources or those that rely on systems integrators, storefront reference architecture (SFRA) enables speedy innovation. This architecture comes with pre-built templates and out-of-the-box tools that enable a small — but mighty — team of developers to get to market quickly and manage front-end experiences.

While every company is unique — operating at different paces with different digital transformation goals — a minimum development team for a build with SFRA will include:

  • 2 FTE react/javascript developers
  • 1-2 FTE backend SFCC developers
  • 1-2 Product managers
  • 1 Creative/UX
  • 1 QA/Regression Testing
  • 1 Dev/Sec/Ops

Medium development resources


If you have a strong technical in-house team, the Progressive Web App (PWA) Kit can help maximize developer productivity and scale for your storefront application. PWAs enable brands to deliver fast, app-like experiences from their web storefront across any device. With the PWA Kit, teams get a pre-built decoupled storefront. This means the benefits of headless commerce, without the operational costs and risks.

While every company is unique — operating at different paces with different digital transformation goals — a minimum development team for a build with the PWA Kit will include:

  • 3 FTE react/javascript developers
  • 2 FTE backend/API SFCC developers
  • 2 Product Managers
  • 2 Creative/UX
  • 2 QA/Regression Testing

High development resources


If your organization is digitally mature and your brand wants to maintain front-end autonomy, a custom headless implementation may be right for you. Building a custom headless storefront empowers your team with full control over the front-end experience. You will be able to use Commerce APIs to build your own storefront using any front-end framework or tools you choose.

While every company is unique — operating at different paces with different digital transformation goals — a minimum development team for a custom headless commerce build will include:

  • 5 FTE react/javascript developers
  • 3 FTE DevSecOps
  • 2 FTE backend/API SFCC developers
  • 3 Product managers
  • 3 Creative/UX
  • 3 QA/Regression Testing

Step 4: Identify activities and key roles necessary for success

Now that you’ve assessed your business, decided on the pace of your roadmap, and determined your development resources, it may be tempting to jump right into hiring for open roles. However, it’s best to be strategic.

Before you post job ads, pause to consider the daily tasks carried out by each team. Mapping each team’s activities will give you a better idea of where gaps exist in your current structure and where roles will need to be filled or created.


Heavily trafficked digital storefronts and healthy conversion rates don’t just happen — they’re the result of a holistic marketing strategy. Reaching the goals you set for these KPIs will include everything from email campaigns to optimized product descriptions and compelling messaging. Consider these tasks before you determine who should be responsible for them — or whether you will need to open new roles:

  • Shopper acquisition
  • Content management
  • Campaign management
  • Promotions
  • Performance Marketing

With their deep knowledge of industry-specific buyer personas, trends, and product details, digital merchandisers give your storefront more allure and help bolster sales. As you decide how to fill out your merchandising team, consider these activities to help determine whether you need to upskill, retrain, or hire:

  • Product preparation
  • Inventory planning and fulfillment
  • Personalization
  • Search

Your front-end operations team brings your digital storefront (or any changes to it) to life by way of JavaScript, HTML, React, and CSS. Consider the day-to-day tasks of your front-end team to get a feel for any gaps that may crop up as you implement your new ecommerce platform:

  • Analytics and insights
  • Program board and tracker
  • Fulfilments and logistics
  • Customer service

Eighty percent of consumers agree that the experience a company provides is just as important as its products or services. With that said, UX and creative design will be key to the success of your ecommerce initiatives. Consider these tasks to help guide your approach when deciding whether to hire, reskill, or outsource your UX endeavors:

  • Shopper experience
  • User research and testing
  • User flow and wireframe creation


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


Going International? Tips for Global Ecommerce Expansion


Step 5: Implement change management

Every team is affected by change during an ecommerce implementation or the launch of new initiatives. It’s important to understand how each team will be impacted and anticipate resistance. Change management will help you minimize risk, boost productivity, and get valued employees on board. These are essential elements of successful change management:

  • Define your change strategy: This includes forecasting how front-end employees will react, planning how you will approach and mitigate resistance, and defining clear criteria for successful change.
  • Build a change management team: You’ll want the right people to help you drive change. Choose a team based on experience with change management, communication skills, and flexibility.
  • Create a communication plan: Develop a strategic vision that explains the purpose of the change as well as the risks of not changing. Then, explain what this change means for specific roles and people to make your vision more concrete.
  • Coach and train change agents: The aim of coaching should be to drive change in your managers, who in turn will drive change in their teams.
  • Collect and analyze feedback: Define program success metrics and ask for feedback in a systematic way (for example, in monthly emails). Evaluate effectiveness continuously and keep in mind that you will likely need to revise your approach more than once.

The key to successful ecommerce: preparation

Now that you’ve considered everything from your overall organizational model to more granular details like activities and responsibilities of each team, you’re prepared for a successful commerce implementation.

About the Author

Holly Dresden is a Regional Success Architect, Senior Director at Salesforce. She’s passionate about ecommerce and collaborating with businesses to improve their digital experience and realize the full value of their investment with Commerce Cloud. In her spare time, you can find her in the garden or in the great outdoors.

Get timely updates and fresh ideas delivered to your inbox.