How to Dramatically Reduce the Cost of Correction of Your Ecommerce Initiatives

Cost of correction is a metric that should be top of mind for all ecommerce leaders. It answers, “If I make this change and get it wrong, how much will it cost my business?”

Why ecommerce leaders should care about cost of correction

Back in the day, I was an individual contributor. My output was my work and its impact. I would celebrate the code that I created and the features that I enabled.

Now that I’m in a leadership position, I view my output as the output of my team. And I’ve learned that I can really help the team move quickly by making decisions.

That’s part of my output – decisions. My day to day job is just to make them, and the faster I can do so, the faster my team can move! That’s why lowering cost of correction is so important – a high cost results in analysis paralysis because it becomes so critical that I make the right decision every single time. 

As a leader, part of your job is to systematically lower the cost of correction for your teams, eg. put systems and processes in place that lower the risk and effort of ALL decisions. 

You should reach a point where the overhead of analyzing which course of action to take is actually higher than just throwing something out there and seeing if it sticks. This empowers teams to make changes faster, and easily correct those that don’t make a positive impact. 

Business risk + effort risk = cost of correction

Cost of correction can be broken down into business risk and effort risk.

Business risk is the potential impact on the business. For example, a small change deployed on Cyber Monday may take little effort but have a very high business risk. If something breaks, it could have a huge impact on the business as there are so many sales on that particular day.

Effort risk is the risk of putting a lot of effort into something that doesn’t work out. For example, if it took 1,000 hours to implement a new PDP and it ends up making no difference to any key metrics, those 1,000 hours could have been better spent on an initiative that made a positive impact.

How to lower business risk and effort risk

Lowering your cost of correction is all about gaining the ability to make decisions faster, get more work done, and stay ahead of customer and business demands – in other words, it’s all about gaining agility. 

Going headless, i.e. separating the front-end from the backend using Salesforce Commerce Cloud’s API-led approach, lowers your cost of correction and unlocks agility.  

Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps, shares groundbreaking research on what drives software delivery performance. One of the architectural principles related to high-performing teams is a loosely coupled architecture that enables the front-end and backend to change at their own pace. This also ensures each system can be deployed and managed independently, empowering teams to ship their own changes and control their own destiny. 

However, headless doesn’t always deliver on these benefits if it’s not properly executed. Here are all the processes and capabilities that need to be built into your headless architecture to lower your cost of correction and reap the true benefits that headless commerce promises.

How to Lower Business Risk

  • Automate deployment processes. Deploys should be really easy and fast, i.e. the click of a button, because they’ll be an everyday event. 
  • Version control all production artifacts. This enables you to quickly roll-back to the last known working state if something goes wrong.
  • Test releases on a subset of users first. If you can control who something goes out to (eg. staff only) it allows you to quickly test and release.
  • Implement continuous integration and test-automation. Every code change should be tested against a suite of tests including Lighthouse, end-to-end, integration, and unit tests to ensure that it has no defects.
  • Implement continuous deployment to non-production environments. This ensures that you always have a production-like sandbox where you can preview the latest changes before they go live.
  • Assign analytical resources to the project. Someone should be constantly monitoring the analytics to recommend what to change next. 
  • Determine who will own the uptime SLA, 24/7 support, operational monitoring, and incident management. The digital shopping experience represents millions, even billions, of dollars in revenue. You need to be able to trust that it will be up and running smoothly.

How to Lower Effort Risk 

  • Use open source tools that are widely supported. Custom development takes time. If you can pull something off the shelf and use it as is, that’s more time for you to customize what really matters.
  • Choose a well-supported stack that has a strong community. A well-supported stack will be easier to hire developers for, it’ll provide bug fixes and security patches, and it’ll have a strong community to ensure you don’t have to custom develop everything. This choice can have huge ramifications if you get it wrong (it could require a whole rewrite of your app) so be sure you’re confident in what you choose. 
  • Select trusted vendors with turn key integrations. Ensure vendors (ecommerce, CMS, analytics, etc.) have APIs for all the functionality you want to add to your ecommerce experience. Salesforce Commerce Cloud for example, provides these with their API-led approach. If you don’t find out until down the line that there are APIs missing, you’ll need to convince the vendor to add them or do a bunch of custom work to build it out yourself.  
  • Assign support and training resources. You don’t want to get stuck on an edgecase of an unsupported library that you can’t figure out, so you need dedicated support and training resources that your team can rely on to help unblock them. 
  • Ensure performance expertise is assigned to the project. Don’t waste time on performance that’s regressing or challenging performance issues that are difficult to solve for. 

Focus on your differentiators

As you can see, there are a lot of things that go into a proper headless set-up. While all these things are crucial to lower your cost of correction and gain agility, they in and of themselves won’t differentiate your business. 

It’s what your team does with the newfound agility that will differentiate your customer experience and become a competitive advantage for your business. Offloading the operational pieces above to a storefront for headless commerce like Mobify can lower your cost of correction while enabling your team to focus on what differentiates your digital customer experience. 

To compare the different front-end approaches in more depth, check out the Enterprise Guide to Headless Commerce Front-ends

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