Ready, Set, Launch!
May 5, 2021
Best-practices for a smooth Adobe Commerce launch
For developers, launching a new software platform can be nerve-wracking. You may be under pressure to launch quickly and deliver business-critical features. At the same time, it is absolutely imperative that you get everything—from features to functions to performance—right.
This is especially true if you’re preparing to launch an e-commerce site. According to the February 2021 Adobe Digital Economy Index, e-commerce accelerated by three years in 2020. Year-over-year (YoY) retail e-commerce growth for January-February 2021 was 34 percent and Forrester predicts digital sales will account for 17% of all B2B sales in the US by 2023. All this means that e-commerce—and the launch of your e-commerce platform—is now a board-level priority.
Fortunately, when you deploy Adobe Commerce, you don’t have to go it alone. Adobe has a robust, global community of customers and partners sharing best practices for ensuring a successful launch. This post will outline these practices, as well as connect you with helpful resources we’ve gathered online.
Start with our launch guidelines for Adobe Commerce
To make the launch process as seamless as possible for you and your business, Adobe has documented all the steps you need to take before you launch and created a comprehensive launch checklist as a quick reference. (We have also created a comprehensive launch checklist as a quick reference.)
It assumes you have roughly four weeks before your go-live date and includes step-by-step instructions for planning and completing your cutover. For best results, we recommend following the instructions and allowing enough time to complete the key steps. In our experience, rushing through key milestones—like user acceptance testing (UAT) or skipping steps entirely can lead to surprises on launch day.
Define what a successful launch will look like
One of the biggest reasons why e-commerce site launches are delayed is due to conflicting expectations of what the live site should include. For example, the marketing team and your systems integrator may think that integration with the marketing automation system is a must-have for launch, while the e-commerce team may see it as a 'nice-to-have'.
Before launch, it’s important to talk with all your stakeholders—including your systems integrator and everyone who was involved in planning the e-commerce site—about which features are critical for the initial launch. If you created a requirements and specifications document for the beginning of development, these conversations should include that information so that everyone is sharing in the vision.
If stakeholders are a having a hard time defining their feature requests, ask them to help you understand whether the request is critical or can be added at a later time. You can also use techniques like 'MoSCoW' to help stakeholders clarify what must be included in initial launch versus those nice-to-haves.
Let your requirements doc inform your UAT plan
In addition to providing a valuable reality check on must-have features and functions for launch, your requirements document can also provide valuable guidance for your test plan. Generally speaking, make sure your UAT plan includes all features outlined in your requirements document. Your UAT plan must also account for the expected results for business units and customer experiences.
Round up the usual suspects
Once you have a UAT plan, you also need to identify who will carry out the testing. This should include everyone who will use or be affected by the new e-commerce system. Some examples include marketing and merchandising teams responsible for updating product content and imagery, the operations team charged with tracking inventory, and finance staff who need to pull e-commerce data into their reports and analysis.
You may also want to choose a handful of customers to test drive the site. It’s critical to uncover any issues that might impact the overall customer experience. Anything that customers find confusing or that makes it harder for them to buy will be a priority to address long before your launch.
Look at content AND functionality
If you create your UAT script based on your requirements document, you should capture all the features and functions that must be tested. Your web store, however, isn’t just features and functions. It’s also the advisory content, product copy, and product imagery that populate your store, as well as the SEO-focused language and metadata that robots will read. All of these things should be tested, too.
Someone on your testing team should be responsible for reviewing all the copy and graphics that appear on your site. They should look for typos, old or incorrect information, and placeholder text and images leftover from the development process. While these issues don’t affect functionality per se, they can have a major impact on the shopping experience and the trust customers have in your brand.
Don’t forget to load test
Another key aspect of testing is ensuring that your site can handle high volumes of traffic and transactions. This is even more critical if you are launching around a holiday or peak sales period or if your marketing organization plans to aggressively promote the new site.
Fortunately, load-testing your Adobe Commerce site should be a straightforward process. You can take advantage of a wide variety of tools—some of them included with your Adobe Commerce platform such as New Relic APM and New Relic Infrastructure. Other commonly used load-testing tools include Jmeter and WebPageTest. You can learn more about your load testing options in the developer documentation. Another helpful resource is the Magento Performance toolkit.
One more thing to remember: keep your Adobe support contacts in the loop. Before you begin testing, enter a ticket explaining the environments you are testing, what tools you are using, and the timeframe.
Prioritize resolving issues and bugs
After a thorough testing process, it’s possible that you’ll uncover some issues and bugs. This is a good thing—after all, you found them before they impacted business operations or—even worse—your customers. However, once you find them, you need a plan of action. Sometimes, this plan may involve going live with an issue and fixing it during your next phase of development and others may require more immediate attention.
Some questions you can ask when evaluating when to address issues with a feature or integration that isn't working:
- How much does it affect the customer experience?
- Are customers expecting this specific functionality?
- Can customers buy products without it?
- Can internal teams do their work without it?
- Can it be temporarily replaced by a batch process or manual upload?
The answers to these questions help you determine whether or not it’s critical to address the problem or deficiency before you launch your site.
Follow the path to success
We mentioned this earlier but feel it’s worth repeating. Adobe has developed detailed guidance for launching your Adobe Commerce site—without any hiccups or surprises. We also provide a short checklist to help you quickly confirm that you truly are ready to go live. If you cut corners such as skipping UAT or load testing, you risk discovering problems after they have impacted customers and your business.
Congratulations on launching your Adobe Commerce site. The next post in this series will provide actionable tips for maintaining and enhancing your site once it is running live.