The e-commerce world
E-commerce, though a relatively new concept in retail, has become a $220 billion industry. The e-commerce industry is growing at almost 20% per year, at this rate; it will outpace the traditional brick-and-mortar within next five year. The growth is being fuelled by the explosive growth smart phone users. The lower cost of setting up an online store, compared to physical stores have helped to create many startups in e-commerce domain which are no less competitive than big old traditional retailers. Development of technology, access to faster internet and availability of cheaper devices has created lower entry barriers. As business analyst role is often seen as a communication bridge between the business stakeholders and information technology (IT), the e-commerce industry offers great opportunities and challenges for a business analyst.
Business Analyst role e-commerce
We know that the role of a business analyst is to understand business change needs, assess the business impact of the changes, capture, analyses and document requirements and also to support the communication and delivery of requirements with relevant business stakeholders, operations and IT teams. It’s no different when it comes to e-commerce domain but since the e-commerce domains are IT intensive, there are additional responsibilities. An e-commerce business analyst measures the success of a retailer’s online presence. Business analysts in e-commerce domain are responsible for analyzing and reporting changes in online sales to a team of e-commerce managers so they are well-informed when making business decisions. A business analyst also oversee and/or track a company’s web analytics, search engine ranking, advertising campaign results and branding across a website.
As an e-commerce business analyst is responsible to transforming data into information, they have to be highly organized, technically-minded and have excellent communication skills. They are responsible for analyzing, documenting and monitoring of various business initiatives and business requirements. They are also expected to present these initiatives clearly to a variety of people from board members and operations managers to customer service executives. It is necessary that they keep up with the latest web analytics software, social media revolution and search engine rules so as to provide the most up-to-date and complete information.
Responsibilities and duties
As we have discussed that the main job responsibility of an e-commerce business analyst is to increase the efficiency of the company’s online sales. Some of the other key responsibilities of a business analyst in e-commerce industry are listed below. You will realize that the basic responsibilities remain same.
- Analyze business requirements: All internal and external business requirements needs to be analyzed and create detail specifications for all e-commerce sites and manage communication with all participants in projects.
- Manage and track multiple projects: A single site may appear different based on geographies, user login, time of the year, etc. DEVOPS (Development to Operations) concept is very importance for the e-commerce companies which talks about continues application integration, continuous testing, continuous deployment and continuous monitoring. It should not come as a surprise that Amazon rolls out a new feature every 11 seconds.
- Monitor and document business discussions: Analyze multiple projects and document all business specifications and participate in various meetings for system groups.
- Business case preparation: Prepare business documents for all e-commerce business procedure and analyze all site traffic to recommend efficient marketing plans and programs and search engine marketing activities.
- Evaluate creative ideas: Evaluate creative ideas and develop a production schedule for projects and develop various key performance metrics for all e-commerce activities.
- Provide recommendations: Recommend improvements to all sites and prepare reports for productivity programs and coordinate with the team to design effective test strategies to increase site productivity.
- Perform analysis on all e-commerce activities on the daily/weekly basis as required and identify roadblocks for customers in the checkout process and recommend improvements to same.
- Partner with e-commerce teams to perform and recommend improvements to e-commerce site performance.
- Monitor all redesigning tasks and ensure incorporation of changes/features suggested and all business requirements to the site after analyzing the changes.
- Coordinate effectively with the stakeholders, operations and the IT team.
As the retail industry is evolving so is the role of business analysts. Let’s took at the some of the challenges posed by e-commerce under business analysis headers.
Eliciting requirements: From the high-level view, BA begins to conceptualize solutions by breaking it down into one or more features needed to meet the desired business objectives. BA should have the knowledge of the domain and the technology that is used. Though IT knowledge is not must but the BA should be able to understand the technology.
Analysis: Under analysis phase, each requirement undergoes a deep-dive. The complex business problem needs to be tackled and solved by breaking them into simpler problems. BA should know the new technology that is available which can be used to address these problems.
Negotiation: Its BA responsibility to make sure all the parties understand the solution and the business, operations and application development teams are on the same page. Since the domain is new and evolving, its becomes much more challenging for a BA to convince all the stakeholders.
Documentation: A BA will have to get their solutions down onto paper. Since the e-commerce domain is driven by innovation, a BA will have to think ahead of times.
UI and UX Design: E-commerce websites are used by end users and the design should be made keeping them in mind. BA will have to work with UI design experts.
‘Go-to’ Person: BA becomes the go-to person for all the stakeholders for any query. BA will have to keep learning and always themselves updated with the developments
Every business is unique and pose different challenges to the business analysts hence e-commerce is not different. If a business analyst sticks to the basic principles of business analysis and have learning attitude, these challenges can be overcome. Readers are welcome to share the challenges they face while working on e-commerce requirements.
Internet search engines and efficient use of social media are hugely important for the success of an e-commerce business. According to a study, 61% of global Internet users researching products online before a purchase and more than 50% of social media purchasing happens within one week of tweeting, sharing, liking or favoriting a product. Hence, it’s important for a business analyst to realize the power of these media of information sharing. Since there is no switching cost for shoppers, retention of the customer is the biggest challenge which business analyst will have to address. Studies have found that boosting retention rates by a mere 5% can increase profits between 25 and a staggering 95 percent. In fact, a 10 percent improvement in customer retention could increase the overall value of a company by 30%. Business analysts have to gear up for the e-commerce challenges as the rewards are also huge.