Lessons learned after two weeks of E-commerce Camp

The second week of E-commerce Camp has concluded and I am happy to say all six teams are heading in positive directions. That, of course, doesn’t mean it’s been easy.

A quick recap: The local media company and the marketing agency associated with it – where I work as a digital product manager – has awarded six teams $5,000 each to start an e-commerce business. I and others act as advisors to provide research, background and knowledge to the teams.

We broke the process of creating an e-commerce business into 10 steps, which is outlined in more detail here. The goal is to increase the e-commerce and marketplace knowledge of the organization and to increase collaboration between people in product, sales and technology and creative departments.

The e-commerce ideas

After two weeks, each team was put on a path to select a niche market, research and choose products to sell, create a brand name and purchase a URL.

Four teams have chosen to explore partnerships with Iowa businesses to sell goods online. The products include popcorn, salsa, coffee and wine. Each team is now wrangling with the details of the business to business relationship.

Two teams have selected business opportunities that require a relationship with at least one drop ship supplier. The current business paths are around do-it-yourself wall art and drinking game supplies.

What we’ve learned

When the curriculum was formed it was intended to push teams down a certain path. Select a product, select a drop ship supplier, pick a shopping cart platform, build, launch and market. We’ve quickly learned that the teams used those steps as a guide but navigated their own path, which is good.

As advisors, we now have to shift the curriculum to fit the needs of the teams and the direction they’ve chosen. For example, we need to up our game on B2B contracts and get legal advice on forming those types of relationships.

We’ve also learned that some teams moved quickly to a new idea after realizing a path wasn’t working financial or logistically. That is good to see.

Finally, we’ve seen and heard that teams are creating synergy amongst themselves.

A recap of the project so far:

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