What is MVP in eCommerce?

One thing that is emerging as an aftermath of this pandemic is that everything is going digital. And online shopping experiences is increasingly the norm. There has been a 200% to 400% uptick in the growth of online sales in the past few months. Customers need products and services and being able to purchase them securely in the comfort of one’s home has become paramount.

Not surprisingly, quite a few small to medium sized retailers who have so far been serving a local community and working as a brick and mortar (B&M) business will now have to create an online presence to not only survive but capitalize on the opportunity. In this “Ideas @ Work” series we present to you a Minimum Viable Product (or MVP) for launching an eCommerce business. So if you have been a traditional B&M store then this is exactly what you need.


A Minimum Viable Product (MVP), a term coined by Eric Reyes, represents a sufficient set of features to satisfy early adopters. The final, complete set of features, is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product’s initial users.

For a Brick & Mortar retailer with an established business this definition holds good where they can test the waters with a minimal set of features that will help their early adopting customers to give them valuable feedback to enhance their site.


Now let us look at a traditional eCommerce platform. There are three major divisions of IT systems that are necessary for eCommerce

Customer Facing Systems
This is typically the website and/or the mobile app where customers can shop online

Business Facing Systems
These are tools that allow the setup of products, prices, order processing rules. These allow the retailer to define the business rules behind eCommerce.

Operations Facing Systems
Customer service portal and call center portal come under this category and address post-purchase requirements of the customer.

A MVP therefore is a subset of all these features, where we define the key features needed and the rationale behind each. Our approach will involve a balance between addressing customer experience and creating a lean operations cost to minimize initial investments.

Typically customers are very familiar with shopping on Amazon and other top eCommerce sites. Not surprisingly their bar for a good user experience and user interface is extremely high. A good UI / UX becomes mandatory for any eCommerce site on the market. This will also ensure that the brand perception is not compromised.

Catalog management
A catalog of what is being sold online becomes a unique proposition for your initial set of customers. In their minds they have associated your brand with a specific set of products that you are known for. So customers will expect to see those products that are unique to your brand. At the same time as a retailer you need to pick those products that can be fulfilled effectively with minimal errors. The balance of UX vs end-to-end customer experience should be key in determining the range of the product catalog.

Payment methods and gateways
This is one area that should be fully developed since customers will need the convenience of payment so that they can experience an end-to-end purchase process. Accepting payments during delivery should be explored as an option to ensure that customers can pay for an order in as many ways as possible

Order processing rules
Customers, especially the early adopters, are trying out the new site for the first time. And they will feel more comfortable placing orders if they see the ability to return an order. If the rules of applying discounts on orders and returns are clearly laid out upfront it helps build confidence in customers in buying online on the new site.

Customer service:
The early adopters should be given impeccable service so that there is enough word-of-mouth in the local community about the quality of the business. The power of a great service establishes a new business as a serious contender in this space.


To conclude, the ongoing pandemic is also an opportunity for many traditional B&M businesses to go online and expand their business. To achieve this retailers will need to start with a MVP that will ensure their success.