This phase has the goal of defining a high-level estimation of costs vs benefits and ultimately will lead to a budget and scope approval. Ultimately, the question is if the project has a chance of being successful in terms of outcomes vs. costs.
An open mindset is needed: most of the time, a lot of deliberation and discussion has taken place, before an initiative is launched. This phase should be about paradigms and the Emperor's clothes on the cost and on the benefit side.
Take time to interview stakeholders. Why do they believe in the project or why are they sceptical? Is this the first ecommerce project? And what has happened to and in earlier projects or products? What id industry leaders do and what are they doing? Listen well and take a broad view: lessons are global and across industries.
This qualitative approach should always be underpinned with data. On the benefit side, the KPI's of the current ecommerce platform or industry data can be used. Are the stakeholders views realistic, optimistic or a big bet? All three are what they are: a linear prediction in a digital world might be as risky in a digital world as a big bet. Matching data and assumptions opens the discussion in this phase.
Validate the assumptions
The ideal starting situation is to start small. Try to find assumptions and paradigms and find a way to challenge them in real-life. Can you start with a small group, a small site, a new label? Or can you adapt a small portion of the site to see what happens? Most big projects fail to achieve the objective they set.
Based on the assumptions and the data, an approach and a scope can be defined. The business case defines the budget. The budget and the own capabilities define the approach: do you build from scratch or take an existing solution? Do you have enough capabilities in the existing organisation or do you need outside expertise?