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E-Commerce Management (ECM) Deployment
As one month has passed in the 21st century, we are beginning to see the transformation of companies and people that's necessary for survival in the information age. Brick-and-mortar companies are continuing to deploy e-commerce efforts that integrate with their core business. Dot.com companies are figuring out how to provide the core services that their brick-and-mortar counterparts take for granted. Both types of companies are melding on and off-line marketing activities. To capitalize quickly, we're seeing a large number of partnerships established between the dot.com and brick-and-mortar companies to allow both types of companies to learn and benefit from each other's core competences.
With all these e-commerce management activities happening in both dot.com and traditional companies of all sizes, there is a strong need for technical and managerial talent who know how to deploy, manage and evolve e-commerce. This is currently a huge opportunity. There's just not enough talent out there. "If you look at the type of work that Viant and Scient (e-commerce/e-business integrators) do, they are booming" according to Tim Reed, Vice President of Marketing at I/Pro. "Trying to hire a Web development team is close to impossible."
One way traditional companies can get a leg up in terms of Internet knowledge and resources, is to partner with dot.com's and other Internet-savvy companies. A number of these partnerships are experiments. They'll either work and more time, money and effort will be deployed or they won't and "hopefully" another set of experiments will be tried. Some recent partnerships worth highlighting include the following:
For a number of these partnerships, measuring success may not be easy and won't be measured by traditional methods. In some cases, the result of these partnerships are products and services that do a better job satisfying the customer. For others, the result will be better brand recognition, while for others, the result will be the acquisition of internal knowledge on how to proceed with future efforts. The question is how to effectively measure success. According to Reed "a lot of marketeers are trying to figure out what they are doing on-line with very traditional evaluation methods. This won't work. People should be evaluating their Web spending on their own merits. How the on-line expenditure is moving people through the product life cycle."
From a marketing perspective, companies that are capitalizing on the power of the Internet have integrated creative. Two companies that have consistent, integrated on-line, billboard, print and media advertising are IBM and E*Trade. The key for these companies is that both the on and off world marketing are working in concert toward the same goal.
For traditional companies to extend their brand and services to the net takes a robust "tops-down" integrated approach. Two companies that appear to be on the right path of making this happen is Futureshop.ca (Canadian-based computer/electronic retailer) and Coldwatercreek.com (US-based specialty direct mail retailer).
Coldwater Creek (sales of USD $315m last year) sells apparel, gifts, jewelry, and home furnishings through a family of three catalogs, a small number of retail and outlet stores and the Internet. "We have moved aggressively to position ourselves as the premier women's apparel site on-line", according to Dennis Pence, Coldwater Creek CEO and President of Internet Sales.
"Web sales represent about 12 percent of our business and has become a catalyst for company growth, providing a vehicle for sales and enhanced interaction with our customers". What's key for Coldwater is customer service, brand integration across the Internet, their catalogs (will send 150 million this fiscal year) and their physical stores. The Internet is so important to their success that their CEO is also their President of Internet Sales.
Futureshop (sales of Canadian $1.4b last year) is Canada's biggest retailer of computers, consumer electronics, audio/video products, music, DVD and appliances. Futureshop has 83 stores nationally and 5 Computer City stores. "Our goal with our Internet efforts is to be the leading Candian 'clicks and mortar' retailer," says Michael DeSandoli, Vice President of E-Commerce who reports directly to the CEO. "In addition to selling on-line and defending our position in Canada, we want to help our stores sell smarter, we want to use the Internet to help create new stores in new markets, we want to extend our line of products and services and we want to help our corporate sales be more efficient". Mr. DeSandoli drills these concepts home by creating metrics that he shares with the company and uses to compensate his staff. After running many experiments and successfully navigating Boxing Day (December 26, 1999) which turned out to be 3 times the busiest day they ever had, Mr. DeSandoli has come up with a couple of lessons he'd like to share. They are:
Let me leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes this month:
I think we have just seen the tip of the iceberg in regards to growth on the Internet, especially in the B2B channel. Brick and mortal will continue to expand their e-commerce management, basically because they have to, to compete with the straight e-tailer. The brand names will prosper. Partnerships are, and will continue to become a huge part of brand name brick and mortal growth. The growth will continue; the key is how to integrate the channels. Retail, Web, direct mail, etc.
(R.A., Belmont, California, USA)
(B.R., Chennal, Tamilnadu, INDIA)
(L.D., San Jose, California, USA)
I hope you enjoy this eZine.
See you in cyberspace,
President, ECnow.com <http://ecnow.com>
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