Selecting the Right Web Order Software (956 words)
To make the decision, you need to evaluate where you are now and where you want to be
By Hallie Mummert
Take this to heart: 15 million more people will make a holiday purchase online this season compared to last year, Jupiter Communications reported in November. Other research groups put holiday online spending at nearly double that of last year.
With more consumer shopping behavior migrating to the Web, not to mention progress in the b-to-b sector, it's imperative to have a robust e-commerce shopping component.
While the bells and whistles of designing a shoppers' online paradise can be fun, it's the back end that will make or break you—holiday season or not.
Whether you are starting your e-commerce channel from scratch or looking to upgrade your current offerings, here are the key issues you need to consider in selecting and implementing the Web order software component that will be right for your business.
Database size—How many SKUs do you have? How many customer records? How many orders do you get, and how fast can you process them? While scalability is built into most software products, you still need to analyze your numbers to determine the right fit, says Rob Coon, manager of sales and marketing at Dydacomp, manufacturer of the Mail Order Manager direct marketing and Web commerce software.
If you're looking at only 200 orders per day, he explains, you can't use a high-end custom model.
Integration objectives—According to Curt Barry, president of F. Curtis Barry & Co., a consultancy specializing in catalog operations and fulfillment, there are three levels of integration between e-commerce and mail-order systems:
1. "Sneaker-net": manually re-keying Web orders into the main business system.
2. File transfer between Web and business
3. Full file integration.
The third level is the vaunted goal, Barry says, but it can be costly to attain.