Being regimented in how you approach business tactics in e-commerce marketing and operations takes discipline. It’s easy to get scattered and become reactive, but for the greatest impact to your business, apply a process to what you do every day.

I am a big believer in testing and a continuous improvement process that allows you to focus on the fundamentals, which logic dictates will matter the most. For an e-commerce site these fundamentals include the category and product pages, the shopping cart and checkout, fulfillment, and transactional communications with your customers. A failure in any of these areas will cost you sales, so use this approach to get the most value from them.

① Plan

Determine your end game for each component of your interaction with your customers and take the time to map out what those should look like. Work with your e-commerce team to map out your approach, and write it down. Make certain to address not just what the result is but the work that needs to be done to get there.

② Execute

Easier said then done, I know. But the greatest plans are worth nothing unless you execute them. Make sure your team is aligned and equipped with clear requirements, and get to the work of making stuff happen. In e-commerce, this frequently involves more than one department, so getting everyone aligned to execute can be a challenge.

③ Measure

While you’re executing, keep in mind that you’ll need to measure what you’re doing and build it so you can effectively determine how successful you are. There are times when you’ll make a change you are confident will drive sales through the roof only to discover the opposite is true. While the data may tell you that you made the wrong choice, the important take-away is really what you’ve learned about your users because it didn’t work. Every change you make will tell you more about your customers so you can understand them better. The more you know, the more impact future changes will have. Know that your so-called failures are really just opportunities. So take risks and discover something new.

④ Iterate

I always say that a website is never finished. Use the data you unearthed in step 3 and go back to step one, armed with actionable data. From here, your changes shouldn’t be big. You’re building a row of successes one at a time. You’ll find you’re able to do more and do more meaningful changes that have a greater impact with this iterative approach to improvements. Make it your company culture, build it into your work processes, and you’ll find it nearly effortless and second-nature.