Dedicated Dev Teams in E-Commerce: Empowering Canada’s Online Retailers


May 28, 2024 - 6 min read

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According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Canada boasted over 27 million e-commerce users in 2022, encompassing a staggering 75% of its population.

Projections indicate a further increase to 77.6% by 2025, underlining the increasing adoption of online shopping nationwide. Moreover, the trajectory suggests retail e-commerce sales will soar as well, anticipated to reach a substantial US$40.3 billion by 2025.

In this article, we examine the obstacles that Canada’s e-commerce retail space needs to overcome in order to secure further growth, explore the embrace of innovation through numerous market-leading examples, and provide actionable tips that our team has come up with over years of relevant experience dictated by changing dynamics.

Challenges in E-Commerce for Canadian Retailers

The International Trade Administration’s commercial guide outlines several key obstacles faced by those doing business with Canada—dedicated development teams included.

First off, they must contend with meeting Canada’s customs requirements and converting currencies into the Canadian Dollar (CAD) for pricing and transactions, particularly with international shipments. Secondly, compliance with strict privacy laws such as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) requires the careful handling of customer data and explicit consent for marketing communications.

Moreover, given Canada’s bilingual status, with English and French as official languages, retailers must provide multilingual websites and customer support to cater to both language groups effectively. Additionally, ensuring high-speed services to remote communities in the northern regions of the country poses logistical challenges, prompting retailers to explore alternative delivery methods and partnerships to facilitate timely access for customers.

Last but not least, the ongoing battle against fraudulent activity necessitates robust fraud prevention mechanisms, including but not limited to secure payment gateways and identity verification systems.

Technological Advancements and the Need for Innovation

In order to overcome the challenges mentioned above and outpace the competition, Canadian e-commerce retailers need to develop a habit of assessing and embracing new technologies as soon as they hit the market.

The Importance of Staying Up to Date with Technological Trends

In Canada, the demand for personalized products is on the rise, with one in five customers willing to spend up to 20% more for customized items. What sets these customers apart is their preference for guided customization, with 42% expressing a desire for companies to lead the personalization process.

Take, for example, Sephora. Being Canada’s #1 player in the beauty industry in terms of net sales, Sephora is not just another retailer—it’s a pioneer in personalized beauty experiences. With its innovative app delivered by a dedicated development team, Sephora redefines convenience by offering a plethora of tailored features that elevate ordinary interactions—from immersive in-app messaging to personalized push notifications and exclusive one-on-one beauty consultations—all at a user’s fingertips.

But Sephora’s dedication to personalization doesn’t stop there. Through cutting-edge in-store technology, its expert staff, known as the “cast,” curates personalized product recommendations based on customers’ unique profiles, enhancing the in-store shopping experience like never before. By seamlessly integrating scanning tools, Sephora caters to its customers’ specific hair color, skin type, and individual beauty needs, making every trip to the store an unforgettable journey of self-discovery.

And with the Beauty Insider loyalty program, Sephora harnesses the power of unified customer data to deliver offers across email, web, and mobile platforms, driving both online and in-store purchases while deepening the bond between brand and customer. Through data analytics, we can uncover a range of insights, including that customers who go to Sephora’s website within 24 hours of a physical store visit are three times more likely to make a purchase, with order values exceeding those of other customers by 13%.

Integration of Emerging Technologies like AI, AR, and VR

In 2017, Amazon—Canada’s largest e-commerce marketplace—made a significant move by acquiring Body Labs, a startup renowned for its expertise in 3D body modeling and scanning technology. This dedicated development team acquisition was a precursor to the current boom in artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) technologies, which are now reshaping the retail landscape.

With the integration of Body Labs’ capabilities, Amazon aimed to enhance its AI-driven solutions, particularly in the field of virtual try-ons (think of more accurate sizing recommendations and customized apparel offerings) and personalized shopping experiences. As the VR/AR market continues to evolve, the recent releases of Meta Quest 3 and the Apple Vision Pro headset highlight the increasing potential for these technologies to disrupt traditional storefronts.

These devices offer immersive experiences that can facilitate digital fitting rooms and even simulate real-world environments, introducing a breakthrough to how consumers browse items online. Moreover, advancements in AI, such as chatbot assistance and image processing capabilities, empower e-commerce retailers to deliver even more granular personalization. Fetching data on preferences and behavior, AI algorithms have the capacity to tailor product recommendations, provide real-time advice, and optimize the overall shopping journey, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction and driving sales.

Challenges in Adopting New Technologies Due to Legacy Systems

In the e-commerce industry, integrating new technologies alongside legacy systems poses a range of challenges. One major hurdle lies in smoothly integrating new technologies with existing platforms that manage crucial functions such as inventory, order processing, and customer relationship management (CRM). This requires the intricate synchronization of data and processes to maintain a cohesive e-commerce ecosystem, which is nearly impossible without having a proper dedicated development team on board.

Additionally, safeguarding sensitive customer information during data migration from legacy systems to new platforms is paramount to prevent breaches or losses that could erode customer trust and incur regulatory penalties. Scalability and performance are also critical considerations, especially during peak traffic periods, necessitating new technologies capable of handling fluctuating transaction volumes without sacrificing user experience. Moreover, ensuring personalized user experiences across channels requires the integration of new technologies with existing customer data and behavioral insights from legacy systems. Compliance with various local and global regulations further complicates the adoption process, demanding accurate planning and adherence to industry standards.

Addressing these challenges necessitates comprehensive training, change management strategies, and collaborative efforts between IT and business stakeholders. This would ensure successful integration and maximize the benefits of new technologies in driving e-commerce growth and competitiveness.

Strategies for Building Effective Dedicated Development Teams

Building an effective dedicated development team requires a strategic approach from all e-commerce retailers in Canada. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Recruitment and Talent Acquisition

  • Start by identifying the specific skill sets required for e-commerce, such as web development, UX/UI design, database management, and platform expertise. Understanding the unique needs of the e-commerce industry will help you target the right candidates.
  • Engage with local tech communities, such as meetups, hackathons, and networking events, to connect with talented developers. Building relationships with these communities can help with identifying potential candidates and fostering a pipeline of talent.
  • Turn to world-class job platforms (e.g., LinkedIn or Indeed) and specialized tech job boards to advertise open positions. Tailor postings to highlight the e-commerce aspect and attract candidates with relevant experience in the industry.
  • During the recruitment process, screen candidates for industry-specific experience in e-commerce development. Look for candidates who have worked with popular e-commerce platforms (e.g., Shopify, Magento, or WooCommerce) and have a strong understanding of industry best practices.
  • Conduct technical assessments or coding challenges to evaluate the candidate’s technical skills and problem-solving abilities. Tailor assessments to include e-commerce-related scenarios or challenges to gauge the candidate’s suitability for the role.

Team Structure and Collaboration

  • Document clear roles and responsibilities for each dedicated development team member to avoid confusion and promote accountability. Ensure that team members understand their roles within the team and how their contributions align with broader project goals and KPIs.
  • Empower team members to take ownership of their work and make decisions autonomously within their areas of expertise. Cultivate an environment characterized by trust and collaboration, instilling a sense of empowerment among team members to explore, innovate, and venture into new areas with calculated risks.
  • Structure development teams to be cross-functional, including roles such as software engineers, designers, QA professionals, and project managers. This allows for a holistic approach to e-commerce development, with team members collaborating closely throughout the development lifecycle.
  • Encourage collaboration between development teams and other departments such as marketing, sales, legal, and customer support. This alignment guarantees that development endeavors resonate with overarching business objectives and customer requirements, thereby fostering the success of e-commerce initiatives.
  • Embrace agile methodologies like Scrum or Kanban to encourage collaboration, adaptability, and iterative progress. Fragment projects into manageable tasks or user stories for easier management, while conducting frequent sprint planning, reviews, and retrospectives to maintain team cohesion and drive outcomes based on the values of the company.
  • Host daily stand-up meetings to keep the team aligned and informed about progress, obstacles, and priorities. This helps identify any issues early on and allows for quick resolution to keep projects on track.
  • Conduct regular retrospectives at the end of each sprint or project to reflect on what went well, what could be improved, and actionable insights for future iterations. This continuous improvement mindset fosters a culture of learning and adaptation within the team.
  • Organize regular knowledge-sharing sessions or tech talks where team members can share insights, best practices, and lessons from their projects. This promotes continuous learning and skill development within the team.
  • If the team includes remote members or operates in a distributed environment, utilize specialized solutions to facilitate easy communication and collaboration. This includes messaging, video conferencing, and collaborative document editing, among other tools.

Training and Skill Development

  • Provide dedicated development team members with access to an array of learning resources such as tutorials, workshops, and conferences. Invest in subscriptions to e-learning platforms such as Udemy, Coursera, or Pluralsight to facilitate self-paced learning.
  • Motivate your team to pursue relevant certifications and credentials in e-commerce development, such as in specific programming languages, e-commerce platforms (e.g., Shopify, Magento), or agile methodologies (e.g., Scrum Master, Product Owner).
  • Organize hands-on training sessions and workshops led by experienced practitioners or industry experts. This could include topics such as advanced programming techniques, UX/UI design principles, or e-commerce best practices.
  • Implement pair programming and mentorship programs where junior developers can work closely with more experienced team members. This facilitates knowledge transfer, skill development, and mentorship opportunities within the team.
  • Hold regular performance reviews for team members, highlighting areas of strength and areas where improvement is required. This helps identify training needs and opportunities for skill development on an individual basis.
  • Provide opportunities for senior team members aspiring to leadership roles. This could include leadership training programs, coaching sessions, or participation in industry leadership conferences.

Start Your Dedicated Dev Team Today

Established in 2012, Vodworks stands as a worldwide leader in comprehensive software development solutions, with a team of over 200 seasoned professionals spanning a range of nations and continents. With a rich background in the Canadian landscape, particularly within the dynamic e-commerce and retail sectors, we bring unparalleled expertise to the table. Solutions delivered by our dedicated app development teams serve 1.5 billion users daily.

Our strength lies in crafting and nurturing development teams tailored precisely to your organization’s requirements, structure, and ethos. We specialize in fostering teams that operate with independence and autonomy, seamlessly integrating into your business channels. Whether enhancing your e-commerce platform, streamlining retail operations, or pioneering innovative solutions, our dedicated software development teams are steadfast in their commitment to delivering exceptional results aligned with your unique goals and objectives.

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