Don’t judge a book by its cover!

Innovation in technology is rapidly changing almost every industry on the planet. The story of what can be achieved is writing itself quicker than most people have the ability to read. For developers of technology, the key to commercial success is finding the right balance between capability and usability. Getting that sort of harmony is the only true route to a happy ending.

You could say we ‘wrote the book’ on procurement technology and we believe we have identified the key element in making the plot hold together. We believe it starts with the infrastructure and the functionality. Once you have a robust infrastructure in place, and all the functional requirements are met, creating a slick user experience is a comparative walk in the park. Like any good book, it is the strength of the plotline which holds the entire story together.

Amazon: the only bookshop where you can buy a lawnmower and a school bag!

One of the many buzzwords bandied around in online procurement at the moment is the ‘Amazon look and feel’ – a super-slick user interface. And what business wouldn’t aspire to the user experience provided by Amazon? But what if the service behind Amazon’s beautifully simple, easy on the eye way of transacting didn’t actually work? What if the goods didn’t turn up, the delivery drivers were rude, the streaming media failed, or the products they recommend were always way off the mark?

If the service consistently failed, would the majority of the population still do the majority of their shopping at an online bookshop?

Many people seem to have forgotten that until 1999, Amazon only sold books. Today they sell pretty much anything that you could ever wish to buy for your home life. It is the ultimate online store, and it is a joy to use and a reliable, trusted platform to buy from.

What is the secret behind the ‘Amazon User Experience’ for online purchasing?

From the beginning, Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos had a plan to create the biggest online store in the world – even in the days when he kept his stock of books in his garage at home. Jeff Bezos has always had a plan to scale, but the importance wasn’t solely focused on the customer interface. Without the ability to find products using a highly functional search engine, to pay using a secure method online – at a time when online payments were discouraged by banks, and then a way of delivering the products to your door in a timely, well packaged fashion, ready for you to read, then he would never have progressed from beyond his garage.

The reality is that the infrastructure from the front end technology to the back office was paramount to the business’s continued success. As a result, he now has a robust platform to which he can add variety, scale and the ‘user experience’… Watch out here come the drones!

The 80 / 20 Rule

The irony is, when people talk about the ‘Amazon Experience’, only around 20% of the total experience can be attributed to the user interface. The other 80% of the experience is provided by the infrastructure and functionality that the average user never sees. So why judge a technology platform on look and feel alone?

User Interface vs Robust Infrastructure

When it comes to commercial procurement, user interface is still important, we’re not denying that. But it’s by no means the whole story. If there’s an inadequate infrastructure hiding behind the shiny cover of a slick user interface, the final chapter will always be disappointing.

Like the Amazon story, the real key is to start by designing the functions that you want your online procurement system to achieve. Work out the end goal. Only then can you develop a best-selling user experience where substance takes precedence to style.

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