E-commerce isn’t right for every organization, but it is the fastest growing sales channel for many retailers, wholesalers and distributors and manufacturers.
Today’s best on-line stores have really grown up. They use much more sophisticated merchandising techniques to help shoppers find the products they want, entice them to buy, and cross-sell other products.
Today’s large, high resolution displays allow sites to merchandise products with incredible visual impact. Some sites allow users to scan product pictures with a magnifier to examine important details up close. Others suggest additional products based on the customer’s selection and provide for coupons, user reviews, product comparisons, gift certificates, loyalty programs and wish lists.
The lifetime value of an ongoing customer relationship is generally much higher than for a one-time transaction, so you may want to consider coupling an e-commerce application to a sales/marketing automation system, such as our SalesPro™ system. This will allow you to maintain an ongoing customer dialogue through e-mail, postal mail and other channels, which can significantly increase the lifetime value of a customer.
It doesn’t take long after developing a successful on-line business to realize how critical operational issues can become. You may find that you want your site to reflect inventory levels and delivery status, and you may want to automate the order feed into your in-house systems.
All of these require an interface between existing systems in your data center and your on-line store, which may be hosted with a distant Internet Service Provider. The best interfaces operate in near real time, but they need to synchronize data across remote systems and this can be complex and costly. As a simpler alternative, data can be transferred through daily uploads and downloads.
If you are considering e-commerce, your first conversation with your web developer should be about your product data, and whether quality photography and product descriptions are available or must be created.
Most on-line stores today are built on either open-source e-commerce platforms such as Magento or Zen Cart, or on commercial systems. Before selecting a platform, work with your web developer to create detailed requirements, and decide which are optional and which essential.
This post is an excerpt from our upcoming publication, ‘The CEO’s definitive guide to website strategy’. If you would like to receive a copy of the complete publication when it is released, please email us at connect@WebBusConnect.com, or call (914) 968-1212.