Ryan Foster: Lean E-Commerce at Super Mondays10 months ago
Recently I was lucky enough to speak at Super Mondays, the monthly meet-up for IT professionals in Newcastle, on why you should give a workshop. I was also lucky enough to be there for Ryan Foster’s presentation on Lean E-Commerce.
I really enjoyed giving my presentation and I hope it might inspire people to give their own workshops in the future. As there’s not much more to say about that and as I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Lean E-Commerce using Shopify I’m going to blog my notes for Ryans presentation.
What is Lean E-Commerce
Ryan talked about 4 types of E-Commerce
- Flash Sales: Where the shop opens aiming to sell its inventory extremely quickly before re-stocking.
- Massive E-Commerce, like Amazon
- Daily Deals: like Groupon or Hot UK Deals
- Subscription Models like The Larder Box or Software a Service.
Ryan stated that most companies are trying to find a niche that is’t dominated by Amazon before going on to talk about what Lean E-Commerce means:
- The Lean Startup By Eric Reis is a great introduction to the concept of ‘lean’
- Lean is getting your minimal viable product to market as quickly as possible.
- In Lean every feature must add value that is measurable.
- Lean uses short iterations so that features can be released rapidly
- Lean does use market research, but its quick. Most of the research is by gathering data on features as they are released.
- Lean requires you to break your project down into short release cycles. A CRM, a ticket system, a website with user accounts are all important. But they don’t need to be done now.
- Release the smallest feature you can & gather data on that. Did it add value?
- In Lean if you are not embarrassed by what you release, you’ve waited too long.
- Ryan gave the example of linking to a “coming soon” page to test a feature. How many people landed on that page, was it popular? If so its worth developing. This flies in the face of traditional UX thinking.
Interestingly there is currently a large movement towards lean UX and its not difficult to see why: Any methodology that puts the emphasis on releasing functionality quickly to test and verify is likely to be popular.
Lean E-Commerce Using Shopify
Ryan then went onto talk about how he uses Shopify for E-Commerce and why it is ideal for the Lean E-Commerce methodology:
- Shopify is a cloud service with a monthly subscription model. So its ideal for lean e-commerce as there is little up-front cost.
- Shopify allows you to launch an e-commerce site with a pre-packaged theme and get data incredibly quickly.
- Shopify is customisable and scalable. As your sites requirements grow Shopify can grow with it.
- Shopify has an API so you can integrate services easily
- Ryan talked about a company who got to 1 million turnover using Shopify before switching to something larger.
- Shopify has an app store for plug and play functionality. This makes it very easy to just try something out.
- The Angry Birds merchandise e-commerce site was launched in 2 days using Shopify.
- Shopify is great, but payment services can be difficult to find in some countries
- Shopify can be a victim of its own success. Because it is so easy to get started clients expect everything to be that easy which it isn’t.
- Lean E-Commerce may struggle in the UK because its audience is much smaller than the US. You need a certain threshold of people for the data to be worthwhile.
Finding a Specialism
FInally Ryan talked briefly about how he found himself as a Lean E-Commerce Specialist. This is something I found really interesting as, to Ryan’s credit, I don’t know anyone else in the north east doing it.
- Ryan’s niche is designing products that sell other products using one of the E-commerce models already mentioned
- Ryan has worked for Y Combinator backed startups and has got a lot of client referrals through them
- Ryan stated that new platforms are being developed all the time. A trick is to get in on a platform early and hope that that platform is successful and grows.
Interested in Supermondays?
Supermondays is a fantastic event and Newcastle I am very grateful to everyone involved in running it. If you want to read more about this months you should check out this post by Janet E Davis, there’s even a photo of me there (ewww!).