5 Ways to Make the Right E-Commerce Investment Decisions
A workshop session I co-led at the recent Annual Conference for Catalog & Multichannel Merchants in New Orleans provided specific and actionable advice on the full gamut of technology investment decisions — from knowing when it’s time for a change, to making the best decision, to ensuring a successful implementation. Joining me on the panel were Jay Greenberg, director of e-commerce at the retail specialty gifts and novelties chain Spencer Gifts; Steve Jones, president/CEO of multichannel food merchant Home Bistro; Fatemeh Khatibloo, vice president of strategic services for Binger Catalog Marketing, a catalog creative and marketing agency; and Danielle Savin, vice president of multichannel retail and marketing at my e-commerce consulting firm, FitForCommerce.
From this three-hour session, we've extracted five key takeaway pointers:
1. Now's the time to invest, not retrench. Even if your business is doing well, look for ways to increase sales, customer satisfaction and market share. Are you falling behind the competition? Do a competitive analysis. Evaluate yourself against direct and indirect competitors. Know your Web analytics, and where and why visitors leave your site. Survey your customers for pain points, opportunities and suggestions. Now that you know what you need to do, determine whether better processes, technologies or skills can make it happen.
In the case of Home Bistro, Jones cited security concerns as what necessitated a change in platform. But it also wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to build more flexibility and features into its Web store.
2. Plan as if you're already behind. The e-commerce industry is changing rapidly. Yesterday’s “best practice” is today’s old news. Today’s “nice-to-have” features are tomorrow’s “givens.” Today's Web customers are savvy, time-starved and conditioned to have high expectations.
Stay abreast of trends and technological advances by using all available resources: industry Web sites, publications, knowledge bases, experts, conferences, virtual conferences and peer networking, to name a few. By combining the knowledge of what you need with what others are doing, you'll be able to determine your business's functional and technical requirements at a detailed enough level to plan properly.