Crafting a Smooth Operational Plan for Your eCommerce Store

April 6, 2020

It is tempting to assume that setting up a new eCommerce website is all about the software itself. As we already discussed in our previous articles, technology is the smallest problem that we have when running a successful eCommerce business.

Apart from the already discussed marketing and merchandising functions, you need to master several additional steps on the path to the perfect eCommerce customer journey.

In particular, this means creating a clear idea of the operational model, resources, and technical requirements of this new sales channel you are setting up.

Overall, your online store is just like a physical store as goods have to be stored, ordered, shipped, delivered, and returned if needed. 

It is a complicated process and requires the management of inventory, integration with shipping providers, credit card processors, and managing customer orders, respectively.

Not only this, but the eCommerce business is highly competitive from both a pricing and customer experience perspective. Customers demand a smooth, frictionless process. To guarantee this type of experience, eCommerce operators must ensure all their systems work together as smoothly as possible.

The best way for a new eCommerce business to start defining the required processes and integrations is by mapping out the entire customer journey.

Order Placement

Placing an order is usually fully automated and means that the customer is adding items to their shopping cart and then submits the order to the system. 

Sounds straightforward, but depending on your setup, this submission process may need some additional steps happening in the background and require two-way communication with the customer in real-time.

For example:

  • Is there a chance that products can become unavailable while placing the order? And how will you mitigate this?
  • Shipping fees need to be re-calculated during the checkout process based on location, weight, etc. or the selection of specific delivery service.
  • The order has to be split into multiple shipments, and potentially the customer can choose how many deliveries they want.
  • Additional shipping address information may be required...

All the above cases need to be clearly defined so that the order placement process on your eCommerce platform can be implemented accordingly and reflect your operational model. By planning these steps, you can save a lot of time and effort during the setup of your online store.

Payment Processing

Processing payments online has become much easier, as there are a lot of different payment providers available. You can accept all sorts of payment methods from credit to debit to PayPal or even cryptocurrencies if you want.

Security is critical when it comes to processing payments, and therefore it is essential to ensure the provider you choose offers the latest security standards. 

Also, your payment provider should ideally support refunds to be issued directly from your admin panel so that you can manage returns and refunds efficiently.

Order Confirmation

What are the next steps you have to take once the order goes through together with the payment?

You most likely want to send a confirmation to the customer and forward the order to your warehouse for processing.

Everything from printing pick lists, and sending notifications to everyone involved in the process gets handled during this stage. However, it could become more complicated if orders are picked from multiple locations or warehouses and require more advanced processing.

Warehouse Fulfillment 

This step seems pretty straightforward as it involves collecting the ordered items and putting them in a box, ready to be shipped. During this stage, it is essential to have an excellent way to track which items have been picked as well as providing a way for warehouse staff to communicate back to the order system in the event there are any changes, missing items, etc. Things can and will go wrong, and it is good practice to be prepared for these situations and handle them gracefully.


Printing the shipment label and getting the package ready for courier pickup usually requires the integration into the shipment provider API. Depending on the shipping provider and their API capabilities, you will be able to let customers track their orders, receive notifications, and also manage returns.

Returns and Customer Care

Customers will want the ability to send a product back if there is an issue with it, the same way they would be able to return it to a physical store. Therefore the process of handling returns needs to be thought through carefully and planned into the operations.

There are quite a few steps involved, such as enabling the customer to return the products quickly, verifying the returned products, replacing them if needed, and sending them again. Each step requires an orchestration of tasks, such as re-updating the inventory, sending notifications to the customer, logging the replacement in the system, and so forth.

As you can see, running an eCommerce business requires a lot of operational steps; these steps tie ultimately into your marketing and merchandising efforts and require thorough planning.

Read the rest of the articles from this eCommerce Business Setup Series:

4 Things That Make eCommerce Better than Traditional Retail

4 Approaches to Choosing the Right Technology for Your eCommerce

Keys to an Organized eCommerce Product Architecture and Inventory System  

How to Maximize the Potential of eCommerce Analytics & Tracking

How to Align Touch points to Maximize Conversion of Your eCommerce Site

3 Proven Techniques to Increase eCommerce Conversion Using Psychology

Top Merchandising Strategies of the Biggest eCommerce Sites

Leveraging Retargeting & Automation to Increase eCommerce Conversions

Written by
Alexander Rauser
Alexander Rauser


Alexander Rauser is the author of Boardroom Guide to Digital Accountability and Digital Strategy: A Guide to Digital Business Transformation, and creator of the DSX Program, a digital strategy and transformation program for Enterprises.

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