An eCommerce startup is the plant shoot of a proverbial garden in early spring – peeking out in abundance after the first hint of sun.
Some of these buds go on to sprout and mature (with some TLC, of course). Others are opportunistic little buggers at best who shrivel up the minute mother nature takes course. You can walk past a garden without so much as a second glance, but the sun is still shining and flowers are still blooming. Like it or not, spring has sprung!
And, much like the rising of eCommerce startups – whether you choose to partake in online shopping or not there’s no denying this type of service is becoming increasingly prevalent.
ECommerce startups are the sprawling vines overtaking the facades of brick and mortars. Global earnings are on track to almost triple, “from $1.3 trillion in 2014 to $4.5 trillion in 2021”, according to Statista.
Why Wine Tech?
An industry currently undergoing a technological makeover is the world of wine tech.
And, one particular eCommerce startup is onto something smelling sweet enough to make wine lovers the world over sing.
Coravin, a US-based eCommerce startup founded in the greater Boston area sells portable devices that allow its user to enjoy a glass (or 2) of wine without uncorking their bottle and thus, preserving their precious Pinot for years to come.
Now, if you’re like me and the idea of leftover wine is mystifying, don’t drop your glass just yet.
That’s exactly why Coravin went on to become and first and leading global wine tech startup.
Trial Before Triumph
The unavoidable precursor to global success? The growing pains of every single eCommerce startup – especially in the US, a particularly cut-throat playground for these types of companies.
Take it from Francois Silvain who encountered his fair share of difficulties while implementing Coravins’ IT systems.
“When I joined Coravin most of our digital environment was outsourced in web agencies. We didn’t have any real competency internally to manage this. It was actually very difficult to get the reactivity, flexibility and agility we needed to support our growth.”
Read more about our collaboration with Coravin.
How to Globally Scale your eCommerce Startup
Now, any success story can also serve as a cautionary tale. A sort of, living and breathing list of do’s and dont’s. Here are my takeaways and absolute musts from Coravin’s own.
Be Prepared for Growth
Just because you can’t foresee the amount of growth your eCommerce startup will incur and when doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ready for it.
Technologically speaking, you should work with a platform that handles the heft of your growth with ease – one offering scalability. Functions like sorting and interpreting customer data for shipping and marketing insights are invaluable. Even more so when your startup is market oriented and dealing with an international customer base, like Coravin.
A good transition is a smooth one. Coravin’s IT infrastructure was previously managed by multiple companies in different countries, which threw a monkey wrench in the coordination department. Working alongside Pentalog, Coravin was able to transition to US-based eCommerce platform, Magento, an open source eCommerce platform written in PHP.
Magento is widely revered for its flexibility and scalability, granting us previous success with UK’s trendy clothing retailers, Missguided.
Working with this platform also provided Coravin the gift of centralized datasets for both their B2B and B2C sectors. This allowed them to track metrics and analyze them more efficiently to seamlessly blend their marketing automation. And, all without shortchanging any part of their customer base.
Define your Work Style
Are you the type of leader who thrives on being heavily involved in the day-to-day of your startup?
Or, do you prefer to set goals for your team and step back?
Do you strictly define your milestones and goals or do you embrace constant change in a dynamic environment? These are the type of questions you should be asking yourself before diving into the nitty gritty of project management.
Defining your work style sets the tone for your team and in leveraging your personality with your management type – ultimately determines the success of your eCommerce startup.
“It was very important to have direct access and direct communication with the developers. I actually play the role of product owner with the Pentalog team and …. we have a very small team here at Coravin. It was very difficult to come up with a master plan and specifications for the next 6 months away. We had to be very very close to the developers and be able to interact with them day to say and make sure we can reach first, the stability we need and second thing, the agility we need.”
In the case of Coravin, working in an Agile environment using Scrum software development methodology was of tantamount importance for Francois, which made our partnership a match made in management heaven.
The Road Ahead
After starting a collaboration with an outsourced IT development team at Pentalog, a particularly successful Mother’s Day campaign drove site traffic up 500%. Meanwhile, the influx of orders was pulled off without a hitch – and this is just the beginning.
“We have a large road map including digital marketing and mobile. This road map is credible and doable because Pentalog is our partner meaning that we know that we can rely on this developer, on their competency to achieve our objective.”
While Coravin are the true heroes of this story, we’d like to think we provided them with a watering can – and we’re just as excited to watch them grow.