Apr 18, 2012

Product Management in the E-Commerce world

If you are planning to take up a product management role (or similar such role) for an E-Commerce organization/startup, here's a list of pointers for you to get started, assuming the product is already launched. Hope this list will help you get a head-start in your new role and will give you some direction to think about where and how you want to take the product forward:

Current state of market for the product category to be sold
     - Target segments
     - Estimated market size
     - Buyer personas

From a customer's point of view,
     - Why do customers purchase this product category? What problems does it solve for them?
     - What decision criteria do they use to evaluate before making a purchase?
     - How do customers purchase this product?
     - What are the different channels? (wholesalers, retailers etc)
     - Purchase frequency
     - What issues they face
          - during the product discovery phase
          - during the purchase phase
          - during the post-purchase phase
     - Which of these issues are very important to your target audience?

Your E-Commerce product
     - What is the product vision?
     - Who are your competing against?
          - Online world
          - Offline world
     - What is your USP? Differentiating factors
          - as compared to other online players
          - as compared to offline channels
     - Supply chain - the entire chain of events from the time consumer visits your site, creates an order, makes payment until the time the product is actually delivered

Similar products / Inspirations from other markets

Who all are involved?
     - Suppliers
     - Logistics providers
     - Packaging providers
     - Payment gateways
     - Content editors
     - Web hosting solution providers
     - e-commerce platform (if not built in-house)

Revenue model
     - from customers
          - Markups on products
          - Payment related charges
          - Shipping charges
          - Convenience charges (Example : Express delivery)
     - from suppliers
          - Commissions on sales
          - Channel signup charges
          - Products hosting charges
          - Payment related charges

Your product
     - Key principles/focus areas
     - Transaction path
     - Registration
     - Search
     - Catalog
     - Product description
     - Shopping cart
     - Order creation
     - Order confirmation
     - Payment
     - Communication
     - Collaboration/Sharing
     - Referrals
     - Compatibility with Non-PC devices (smart phones, tablets)
  
Suppliers
     - Hiring/On-board process (Self-serve / Assisted)
     - Signup
     - Product catalog upload
     - Preferential catalog display
     - Price management (Markups / Discounts)
     - Marketing campaigns (Coupons / offers / promotions)
     - Sales analytics

Cost structure
     - customers
          - customer acquisition costs
          - discounts on products
          - referral incentives
     - content providers/editors
         - content charges (description, pictures, reviews etc)

Engineering
     - Product Architecture
     - Data storage
     - Caching
     - Deployment
     - Backup/Recovery

Launch plan / Go-to-market
     - Awareness
          - Teaser campaigns (Signup offers, Limited invites)
          - Social media campaigns
     - Sustenance
          - Coupons/Discounts
          - Affiliate marketing
          - Strategic partnerships
          - Organic search
          - Search Engine Marketing
          - Display ads

Product Performance
     - Tracking analytics
          - Page views
          - Number of searches
          - Unique users
          - Referral sites
          - High demand products (product categories if selling multiple categories)
          - Number of successful transactions
          - Number of failed transactions
               - Failure reasons (dropouts, payment failures)
          - Average Transaction size per product category
          - Registered users
          - Transactions from new users
          - Transactions from returning users
          - Device-specific trends (PC and non-PC devices)

I found this article which I stumbled upon recently to be very useful for product management in the e-commerce world - http://www.beingpractical.com/2012/03/23/what-has-product-management-got-to-do-with-ecommerce/

Would love to hear your comments/feedback if I have missed out something more.

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