Jul 17, 2023 | 8 min read
With the digital world changing at a breakneck speed, the key to winning in entrepreneurship and e-commerce is simple: solve real user problems. Behind all the techy stuff, it’s the focus on people that counts. Trying to figure out the link between product management and solving user problems can be like peeling an onion. But once you get to the core, you’ll find heaps of insights that can change your approach to business. This article will shed some light on how important product management is in e-commerce.
Before we dive in, let’s pause for a sec and ask, “What the heck is product management?” It’s all about teaming up with talented designers, developers, and stakeholders to determine what to create and when. But the real magic happens when what’s being made fulfills user needs. This idea goes beyond just making a product; it’s about getting real-world results. Remember, doing product management right is all about figuring out what’s needed and making it a reality.
In the words of Ali Alavi, CEO of Seed to Sold, product management is about spotting the most crucial user needs and figuring out the best way to meet them. It’s about coordinating team efforts, managing a product’s life, and ensuring customer needs and business goals are on the same page. The day-to-day stuff might look like “busy work”—penning down descriptions, dealing with documentation, and collaborating with different people. But at its core, product management is about results: what value are you giving? What are you actually creating?
In e-commerce, product management is super important, standing at the crossroads of technology, business, and user experience. It’s about tuning into the market vibe, getting the hang of consumer thinking, and using these insights to shape and guide the product journey.
The main idea behind doing product management right in e-commerce is to get that it’s not just about selling a thing—it’s about tackling the real problem that the user wants to solve. Here’s an example, imagine you’re selling a milkshake. At first glance, the problem seems basic—the customer wants a milkshake. But you might find out that people buying milkshakes in the morning want something to keep them full during the day, especially on the go. On the other hand, folks getting milkshakes in the afternoon are often parents giving their kids a quick, sweet snack.
Product management in e-commerce should take a similar route—focus on discovering what the user needs and figuring out the best way to meet it. Think of it as an inner compass steering your e-commerce business toward success. This mindset ensures that your operation’s everyday tasks aren’t just “busy work”; they’re all about delivering what’s valuable—identifying and fulfilling the user’s actual needs. Grasping and using these insights can significantly boost your e-commerce game.
E-commerce can be like the hospitality industry; you want to predict what your guests—or customers—want and meet them effectively. This practice of putting your customers first is not just about being customer-focused; it’s about creating a user-centric culture.
Have you ever wondered what a user wants when they land on your website or app? It’s about understanding that as a product manager (PM), your main gig is to solve user problems. And how do you do that? Let’s look at some solutions using the example of an online cannabis store.
1. Solving User Problems: We get into the heads of our users, figuring out their issues and daily obstacles. This way, we can craft solutions that hit home. It’s about creating what they want and need, not what we assume they might want. For instance, if your users are looking for a way to quickly compare strains, potencies, or prices across various online cannabis retailers, what do you do? You design a platform that makes that comparison super easy.
2. Meeting User Goals and Motivations: It’s not just about their immediate needs but also their goals and what motivates them. Once you’re synced with their mindset, you can align your product with their objectives. Let’s say they’re into collecting unique strains; why not introduce a reward system for repeat purchases or members-only access to limited-edition strains?
3. Providing a Positive User Experience: You’ve probably heard of UX, right? It’s all about how your users engage with your product and the feelings it evokes in them. Solid UX is the secret ingredient for making users stick around, feel satisfied, and stay loyal. Suppose your users value an experience similar to a retail store when shopping for cannabis online. In that case, you focus on delivering a platform that offers clear 360 product photos, easy-to-read aromatic and terpenes descriptions, and a live chat.
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A great example of the power of a customer-first approach comes from the cannabis industry. In the beginning, competition in this market was all about price. But this focus started a harmful “race to the bottom” and didn’t boost sales.
Things started to change when companies put customer service and the overall user experience first. They added small but impactful features—like live chats and fun emojis—to improve customer interactions. Businesses also started to tweak their products to better match customer needs and motivations, like making a more engaging user interface and offering special deals or rewards.
These changes gave a big lift to sales and customer loyalty. This shift from price competition to a customer-first mindset underlines the importance of understanding and putting user needs first in product management.
E-commerce isn’t just about selling products online. It’s about creating a personal and immersive virtual store where customers can connect with the products. The key to optimizing user experience is building real customer connections.
Here’s a question: What makes one e-commerce store stand out, especially with similar prices and products? That’s right—it’s the user and customer experience. It’s like adding a personal touch behind the computer screen, which will set businesses apart in the future. It won’t be about having the most advanced technology but about providing the best user experience. Imagine being able to offer that warm and welcoming in-store experience online.
Whether offering 360 product views or using surveys to find the perfect product, the goal is to get as close as possible to an in-store experience.
Now, let’s consider pricing and customer service. Adjusting your pricing strategy can be risky in today’s economy, but focusing more on customer service can significantly enhance user experience and help mitigate some of that risk. Remember that feeling when you walked into a store and were greeted with a friendly smile? That’s the level of customer service we aim for online.
Through improved customer service, we’re not just increasing sales. We’re building loyalty that turns one-time buyers into lifelong customers. It’s not just about the checkout cart but the entire journey. Your customers aren’t just buying a product; they’re buying an experience.
Isn’t it amazing how far technology has come? From PCs to smartphones and now, the revolutionary Artificial Intelligence (AI). Have you thought about the potential of AI in product management and e-commerce?
AI is like the secret ingredient that gives your business a significant edge, improving service delivery to users and boosting your business operations. But, as impressive as it is, we must understand its benefits and limitations.
Picture this: you’re brewing a fresh cup of coffee in front of your computer, as AI automatically generates product descriptions and saves time and resources. Or imagine using AI for image modifications, recommending products to customers, deciding which products to market, and even timing the emails to customers based on their browsing activity. Now, that’s what I call putting on X-ray vision goggles for your business!
Let’s take an e-commerce dropshipping company as an example. Today, they can leverage the power of AI to generate product descriptions. In the past, they had to manually write descriptions for thousands of products, which consumed a lot of time. Now, with AI, they can write hundreds of product descriptions equivalent in quality to humans over a weekend instead of a year.
While AI enhances analytics and data management, decisions about customer experience still need the human touch. After all, the customer experience, the service design, the whole journey from the moment a customer steps into the store until they’ve made a purchase and even beyond, needs the expertise of product managers and teams.
We should continue letting humans focus on genuinely unique tasks, such as making more significant decisions, while leaving tedious work to AI.
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Bringing in a product manager is a big step for an e-commerce business. It marks transition from a lean startup to a more structured organization that values customer-focused product development.
So, when is the right time to bring in a professional product manager? It’s when you have a team of developers and designers who need guidance. However, remember that it depends on your business’s financial health and size and the CEO’s skill set.
Imagine your e-commerce business as a growing child. There comes a point when it needs more than just the basics – it requires expert guidance. That’s when a dedicated product manager comes into play. But what qualities should you look for in your superhero product manager? They should have a keen understanding of market dynamics and customer needs, possess strong technical knowledge, and excel in effective communication. Sounds like a tall order? It is indeed, but remember, the best product managers know how to balance user needs with business objectives.
Think of it as entrusting your baby to a nanny. You’re giving them a significant amount of control over your business. And just like a nanny, the product manager you hire could either drive your business to success or unintentionally cause harm, especially if you’re still in the early stages with only a few employees.
Here’s the most important takeaway: Be courageous and learn the ins and outs yourself. It will make you a more effective business owner. And when the time comes to hire a product manager, you’ll be able to recognize the best candidates because you’ll understand the role inside out.
From exploring the intricacies of product management to recognizing its profound impact on e-commerce, we’ve embarked on an intriguing journey in this article. As we reflect on the insights gained, let’s emphasize the critical point: Users should be the focal point of every product decision.
Product management in e-commerce is far from simple; it’s a delicate dance that requires precision, understanding, and above all, empathy toward users. As we’ve seen, it goes beyond just shipping products; it’s about delivering solutions, experiences, and genuine value. While innovations like AI can boost operational efficiency, the human touch remains crucial. And as we make crucial decisions like hiring product managers, understanding their role in bridging user needs and business goals remains vital.
One important lesson we’ve learned on this journey through product management is the significance of putting users at the center. It’s all about truly understanding what users need, what motivates them, and what challenges they face, and then shaping our products and services accordingly. Let the insights from this article serve as a timely reminder that our success in e-commerce depends on our ability to grasp and fulfill user needs. So, as we move forward, let’s strive to maintain this user-focused approach, where a deep understanding of our users guides every decision we make in product management.
Remember this fundamental rule as you take each step towards creating a user-centric product: Your success in e-commerce relies on your ability to solve your users’ problems effectively.
Duoplane as a business embodies user-centric culture and builds our dropship automation products around our customer’s needs. If you’re an e-commerce brand with multiple vendors, suppliers, 3PL or warehouses, we might be just the solution you need to automate your fulfillment operations. Contact us and learn more about how we could help your e-commerce business succeed.
This post was last updated on Jul 11, 2023.
Product management in e-commerce is all about identifying and fulfilling the user needs and problems. It stands at the crossroads of technology, business, and user experience (UX). Through product management, businesses can tune into market dynamics, understand consumer thinking, and guide the product journey in a way that resonates with the users, ensuring a customer-centric approach.
AI plays a transformative role in product management and e-commerce. It can automate tasks such as generating product descriptions, recommend products based on user behavior, and even schedule customer communications. For instance, dropshipping businesses can leverage AI to efficiently create product descriptions, optimizing business operations. However, while AI enhances analytics and task automation, decisions about customer service and user experience should have a human touch to ensure empathy toward users.
Understanding user needs is pivotal because it directs businesses to create products or services that genuinely resonate with customers. It’s not just about selling products; it’s about identifying and solving user problems effectively. This user-focused approach ensures that business operations align with customer motivations and goals, leading to increased loyalty and sales.
Positive UX in e-commerce is all about connecting with customers on a personal level. It could involve offering 360-degree product views, using AI for personalized product recommendations, or focusing on customer service to build trust. The key is to replicate the in-store experience online, making users feel valued, understood, and satisfied, emphasizing a customer-centric approach.
E-commerce businesses should consider hiring a product manager when they have a team of developers and designers needing direction to align business goals with user needs. The product manager should have a deep understanding of market dynamics, be skilled in operational efficiency, and prioritize a customer-centric approach. Their role is crucial in ensuring the business not only meets its objectives but also solves user problems effectively.
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