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How workshops help eCommerce businesses reach their goals

If you read our previous workshops post, you’ll be all clued up on why you should be using workshops to inspire growth – but what about how you actually get there?

In this post we’re diving deeper into how you can use different types of workshops to work towards your business goals – whatever they may be!

What can I use workshops for?

As a rule – we think workshops work well wherever people have ideas and opinions to offer. That’s almost everywhere within your business!

It’s also a pretty wide angle, so read on to find out the specific ways you can use workshops, and some of our suggestions for putting them into action…

Brainstorming new ideas

As well as the user journey and empathy mapping we mentioned above, you can use workshop techniques to brainstorm a slew of other ideas, and then develop them further.

This works a treat for everything from brainstorming a strategy to refining an idea for an ad campaign – and everything in between. The key to getting a good result here is asking the right focus question.

Your focus question could be…

  • What’s our goal for…?
  • How might we fix…?
  • What should be included in…?

Picking the right question to explore is the most important part. Once you’ve framed your problem, you can use your workshop to list issues, spot patterns, connect the dots, sum up the similarities, and then think of answers collectively.

We really love the KJ Technique for collective brainstorming – as it lets you benefit from individual contributions as well as the shared consensus, so it’s the best of both worlds. For more on the KJ Technique, check out this deep-dive into it from UIE.

What this could help with:

  • Developing a content strategy
  • Exploring product development ideas
  • Thinking through solutions to problems

Becoming more customer-focussed

Alright, we hear you – you’re already customer focussed. But when was the last time you studied customer behaviour and adapted your site or strategy to fulfil your customers’ needs, rather than your business functions?


We’re bringing this one up early because it’s one of our favourite ways workshops help and inform what we do for our clients. We use workshops to:

  • Develop a shared understanding of customer behaviour and needs
  • Brainstorm different types of customers to develop an empathy map or persona
  • Plot the highs and lows experienced in a customer journey
  • Decide on actions to enhance the positive points and fix the negative ones

Empathy and user journey mapping is a little too complex to explain in this blog post, so if you want to explore this further we recommend you check out this very informative how-to post from Neilsen Norman.
This approach works best when you’ve done initial research to inform your ideas, but sometimes you’ll just have gut feelings or anecdotal knowledge – and workshopping in that case can still be useful, even if to just uncover the areas you do need to explore more in-depth.

Evaluating and refining work

While often the most efficient way to work is alone, sometimes you need to do the work together, at the same time – and there are workshop strategies for this, too.

Our top picks of strategies for this include:

As well as working on a task or document together, you can also use workshops to refine rough ideas, visualize how they’d work in practice, and develop them into task lists or implementation workflows. 

It’s worth remembering that sharing your work-in-progress, live, with your colleagues, leaves you open to a degree of vulnerability. The activities above are designed to provide a framework for people to think through and give better feedback – helping it to be less personal, and more objective. Having said that, we’d always advocate for keeping these kinds of workshops smaller, with only the people who truly need to be there involved.

Gathering and delivering feedback

We mentioned in our first blog post that workshops are great for feedback sessions – but it’s important, so we’re bringing it up again!

As long as you’ve nurtured that open, honest collaborative space where colleagues feel free to share their ideas and opinions without judgement – it’s the ideal space to both gather and deliver feedback on everything from creative work to project performance.

Again, we’d re-iterate – keep these workshops limited to only the people who truly need to be involved, especially when it comes to performance feedback.

What this could help with:

  • Making big design decisions
  • Researching areas for improvement
  • Developing company or department goals

Planning timelines and priorities

So you’ve figured out where your business is, what the problems are, and you’ve even come up with some solutions to fix them. Great – but now how do you know what order to tackle them in?

It’s an issue all businesses face – the problems staring you right in the face, and the solution might even be obvious as well, but how are you going to actually get there?

This is where workshops come into their own – with everyone who needs to be involved in the room, you can establish timelines in real-time by breaking tasks down into shorter jobs, see where the gaps are in responsibilities, and really be sure everyone knows what’s expected of them. Staff are also able to give feedback on whether your timelines are genuinely achievable up-front, so no nasty surprises later.
As for planning priorities? We have the answer for you – impact/effort scoring. It’s an easy-to-understand and clear way to decide as a group what to work on and in what order – read up on how it works here.

What this could help with:

  • Deciding the order of projects or tasks
  • Staff resource planning
  • Choosing between different solutions
  • Delegating responsibilities for new business areas

Developing complex strategies

A strategy is a tough thing to develop on your own. There’s so many things to think about, different targets to hit, that it can really become overwhelming. Even before those 5 coffees you drank to get started!

However, bring the team together and suddenly your brainpower multiplies. You can instantly answer questions like, “how long will implementation take?” or “how will our customers respond to this?” when you’re surrounded by your internal experts. You can expand on ideas or niche them down with ease – and there’ll always be someone in the room wanting to play devil’s advocate (which often can help you to avoid any pitfalls).

Really want to encourage that devil’s advocate mindset? Try Pre-mortem, Reverse Brainstorm, or Idea Beetle to really bring those potential catastrophes to the surface – where you can deal with them in a safe environment!

What this could help with:

  • Deciding the order of projects or tasks
  • Staff resource planning
  • Choosing between different solutions
  • Delegating responsibilities for new business areas

Analysing data as a group

Not sure why conversion rates dropped last month? Maybe the customer service team can help. Want to know what caused traffic to spike over the weekend? Marketing probably know the details. 

Bringing your experts from across the business together to examine the data together and establish actions based upon it – how can we make this better, or how can we do this again – really turns that insight into positive action you can use to grow your business or better your offering.

What this could help with:

  • Improving on events you held in the past
  • Spotting patterns that helped you achieve big wins
  • Finding the UX pain points in your website

Join our workshop?

If you’d like to learn more about workshop tools and techniques that can help grow your business, we’re running a series of invitation-only workshop events designed specifically for eCommerce merchants. Email to request a space and date.

Which of these areas can help you most?

We’re hoping that’s given you more than enough ideas in how workshops can help your business thrive – but this isn’t the end of our series. We’ve still got two more posts to come – including getting the most out of workshopping with an agency, and a bonus post with all our favourite tools and resources for remote workshopping.

We hope you’ll come back for the next instalments – to be notified when they go live, make sure you sign up to our newsletter!