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The Ultimate MVP Method for E-commerce: How to Validate New Ideas in Retail, Fast & Efficiently

Specno

Steal these Silicon Valley tech secrets for building amazing e-commerce businesses for your retail projects – this is the ultimate MVP method for e-commerce success 

Are you rolling out new e-commerce projects right now?

How many? And how often? Because your competitors are – Gartner says more than half of retailers are investing heavily in perfecting e-commerce this year. Which makes sense: The global e-commerce market was worth $5.2 trillion in 2022, $6.3 trillion in 2023 and analysts predict it’ll hit $8.1 trillion in 2024, so there’s a lot at stake.

The thing is, the most successful retail e-commerce businesses in the world – Amazon, e-Bay, Rakuten, Temu, AliExpress etc. – are all tech companies (and not retailers). The only traditional retailer that’s come even close is Walmart, and it did so by making a big change in how it operates: By letting go of traditional retail and functioning more like a tech company.

A Crucial Change for E-Commerce Success

So, here’s a radical idea: What if we approached your road to retail e-commerce success not as retailers, but as tech companies?

It’s great because the tech industry has a very specific way of testing new ideas BEFORE spending too much time and money on them. And, since we at Specno are technology consultants, we know that game inside-out.

The first secret to dominating e-commerce is to learn to test and validate new ideas very fast by using e-commerce MVPs (minimum viable products).

Instead of investing a lot of time and money into building solutions out fully – and then finding out only months or years later whether it’ll work or not – MVPs help you roll out and test smaller, scaled-down versions of your product/tech (a new app, a store feature etc.) very quickly, and then gather user feedback to help you perfect it BEFORE you develop it.

Here’s your ultimate guide to the MVP Method for E-commerce…

First: What does MVP mean in E-commerce?

MVP stands for Minimal Viable Product. It’s a tech industry term you’ll hear thrown around a lot in highly active tech regions like Silicon Valley and your local startup and software development scene.

It works on a simple premise:

  • Traditional businesses finish their products before releasing them, which takes a long time, costs a lot of R&D money and comes with a huge risk: What if, after all that effort, no one wants it?
  • Tech companies can’t afford that risk and wastage, so they create simple prototypes (MVPs) of products first, then test them on a whole bunch of users, get their feedback and then use that input to build the final product only once they are 100% sure it’s what people want.

We call it validation, and it basically means you check to make sure that people actually want and need the thing you want to build (a new e-commerce app, tool, function or system) BEFORE you build the final product.

For example: If you want to deliver a new system, tool or method to overcome the crucial delivery challenges in the competitive grocery delivery space, you can get it done faster by using customer feedback mechanisms. See 7 powerful MVP examples in retail.

Instead of wasting months or years building something that may or may not work, you can use an MVP (prototype) to get feedback in as little as 7 days – like the guys at Google do in this video…

Watch: Validating Ideas First with MVPs and Prototypes

An MVP in e-commerce is exactly the same thing, only we apply the process and thinking to test your ideas in retail - see it in action in these MVP examples for retail.

Here’s how it works…

The Ultimate 5-Step MVP Method for E-commerce

1. Identify the problem

The first step is all about understanding the customer's pain points. What problem does your e-commerce solution aim to solve? This requires thorough market research, customer interviews, and competitive analysis to ensure that the problem is real and that your solution has the potential to make a significant impact.

How to identify and validate problems

  1. Sit with your internal team and brainstorm some ideas. What e-commerce solutions do you think your customers would want?
  2. Next, contact our e-commerce specialists and ask them about conducting Concept Validation for your e-commerce ideas.
  3. Our team will then do the market research, interviews, scoping, planning and all the necessary validation steps to verify 100% which ideas are worth exploring BEFORE you invest any time and resources in building them.

See why your ideas should go through concept validation, as well as how long it takes to validate your idea an how to use big data to understand customer needs.

2. Define the value proposition of your MVP

Once the problem is clear, articulate your value proposition. This is the unique benefit your product offers to solve the identified problem better than anyone else. A strong value proposition focuses on the customer benefits and differentiates your product from competitors, providing a compelling reason for customers to choose your solution.

How to define your value proposition

  1. Start by knowing your customer – their wants and needs.
  2. Then analyse your competitors – how are they serving those same customers, what solutions do they offer and how do they market those solutions to customers?
  3. Next, look for gaps in the market – which of the customer’s wants and needs are not being met by your competitors? Can your solution offer those solutions?
  4. Express your idea’s Value Proposition clearly according to: A) What it does, B) for whom, and C) why it’s unique.
  5. Contact our tech consultants for help, we specialise in working the Agile way (like in Silicon Valley) to help innovate more strategically.

See our guide to scaling your retail software and see why you need a digital consultant to succeed in e-commerce.

3. Prioritise features for your MVP

With a clear value proposition, the next step is to prioritise features for your MVP. Adopt the "less is more" philosophy. Remember: An MVP is not the full, final product, it’s a small, scaled-down easy (and cheap) to build prototype of your e-commerce solution, to just run some tests on customers with.

So, select only a core set of features that are essential to solve the problem and deliver on your value proposition. Use criteria such as customer impact and implementation feasibility to prioritise features. This approach ensures a focused product that can be developed and launched quickly.

How to choose features for your MVP

  1. Start by writing down all the features you want your product to have.
  2. Then, select just the absolutely necessary ones for the customer to solve their problem/need (refer to the research in Point 1 above). For example: If your customer specifically wants a way to buy with just one button, build only that as your core feature.
  3. Leave out everything else that’s not crucial to your core functions – pretty pictures, extra options, drop-downs, videos and long explanations are not necessary for an MVP (you will add those later on if needed.)
  4. Contact our retail tech product specialists for help with this, they have tech pros like product owners on the team, who are experts at helping you get to market faster.

See how gathering better data boosts your customer loyalty, how to choose retail app features for personalised journeys and see how to use big data to understand customer needs.

4. Design & development

This phase transforms your idea into a tangible MVP product. Adopt agile development practices to facilitate rapid design and development cycles, allowing for flexibility and quick adjustments based on ongoing feedback. Emphasise user experience (UX) design to ensure that the product is not only functional but also intuitive and engaging for the user.

How to design & develop your MVP

  1. Contact our e-commerce software strategists, they have teams of dedicated software and technology advisors on hand to help with everything from design and UX design to lightning-fast development on a range of platforms.
  2. Explain that you want to create an MVP to test your e-commerce ideas, and they’ll be able to best advise you on simple, smart ways to do it well.
  3. Have a look at some of the unique solutions we’ve built for other companies in our development portfolio, to inspire and give you ideas of what’s possible.    

See details on the entire development process, as well as how long it takes to create an app, how to develop an MVP 3 times faster and how to save up to 80% on development costs.   

5. Launch & iterate

Launching the MVP is just the beginning. The important work is to collect and analyse the user feedback, monitor performance metrics, and be prepared to make quick iterations (changes/updates). This continuous loop of feedback and improvement is crucial for refining the product, enhancing user satisfaction, and ultimately achieving product-market fit.

How to get feedback and iterate

  1. Contact our customer insights team, they can help you deploy advanced data collection methods, so you can learn from your customers while they use the MVP.
  2. Get yourself a product owner who will help you understand your various customers and their journeys.
  3. Then our team will help you interview your customers and deploy analytics on the MVP to measure things like customer engagement, and usage rates and help you determine what’s working or isn’t in the MVP, and what features to add to gradually build up your new e-commerce product.

See how using data boosts customer loyalty, how to use analytics to get better customer engagement and get true omnichannel by learning to integrate online and offline channels in retail.

Want to ensure you get great, usable feedback? See our guide on how to do customer interviews and learn why you need design thinking in finance.

What’s Next: Iterate, Perfect and Build out Your New Product

Now, you already have a mini, scaled-down version of your e-commerce tool/system/app, and your customers are telling you what they want you to add and take away. So you can gradually update and change features etc. – ask our developer team how – safe in the knowledge that you are building exactly what they want.

The thing is you can use this to systematically scale up and start adding and testing some of the more advanced features, eventually ending up with your final product.

It might take a few scale-ups or what they call architecture changes, but you probably won’t have any downtime, because our team will help you scale the software gradually, so that, from your customer’s perspective, it just looks like your e-commerce tool is getting better and better over time.

We at Specno are technology consultants, with our own tech product development, design, management etc. teams, so we specialise in this type of project specifically. You can get some ideas for your own projects from our tech portfolio.

Need help creating a successful e-commerce solution?

Let our team of digital consultants help you do it right, save money and get it done faster.

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Specno Team