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Article: Are Your Bell’s Ringing?

Wishing everyone a festive few weeks and certainly ‘bells a ringing’ at your online cash register this year.  After all, consumers are expected to spend roughly $150 billion online in the next four years.

But remember, taking advantage of e-commerce is much more than simply opening up a new, online sales channel. It's not just about using technology to streamline your business model, creating savings, and increasing efficiency. It's about lowering costs and establishing closer, more responsive relationships with your customers, suppliers and partners.

E-commerce has evolved from consumers conducting basic transactions on the Web, to a complete rethinking of the way partners, resellers and customers transact.  There are enormous advantages in using Internet technology to deepen and secure relationships with any and all of your customers and channel resellers.

The reality of e-commerce on the Internet is that it mimics business in the real world. The Internet is a different sales medium with direct sales and retail characteristics, yet it still requires strategic business planning, budgeting, clearly defined expectations and a realistic return on investment.

Think about the old four Ps of marketing, Price, Product, Place, and Promotion and the newly added fifth P of marketing, ‘People’ in your marketing recipe. As discussed, each ingredient should do something different but together they reinforce each other.

Remember, adding ecommerce to your business is not as easy as some people say. Developing a successful on-line presence requires an investment of time, effort, and money, plus retailing and on-line commerce experience. But, it is an additional sales channel that addresses the consumers’ demand for having a product when, where, and the way in which they want it. This will also allow you to improve your financial performance without adding stores. Just think! CNN announced over $2 Billion US dollars were spent online this holiday season so far.

If you are a manufacturer, importer or distributor, a big part of the Internet growth is yet to be seen as to how you face today’s difficult business challenge in competing and succeeding in the Internet economy. Your traditional channels of sales and distribution must be recast to take advantage of the Internet and this implies you choose new ways of utilizing your reseller or channel assets.

Do not neglect them. There are many ways to both build and destroy these relationships.

You must determine which of your sales channels to take to the web. You may presently utilize multiple channels to respond effectively to your customers’ needs such as your direct sales teams plus a mix of resellers, retailers, OEMs, and dealers who deliver value to your customers and strategic value to you by providing you with global and vertical reach, logistics and additional value-added services.

The Internet has also been responsible for another large change in our purchasing lives regarding travel related issues. In the United States Internet-booked rooms is the fastest-growing segment of hotel reservations and we all know the statistics for airline and travel packages purchased online.

The Internet is becoming part of our lives. It has to be accepted and worked with. A business that does not put the appropriate investment and effort will not be effective long term against its more Internet experienced competitors.

But just think! You have all of next year to put in place the infrastructure that will ring your bells next December.  - John Shenton - December 20, 2002

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N.B.** The articles were first published in the Times (Montreal, Canada) and written by John Shenton as special contributor to the Times Technology Section. Articles and Reports written by us may be printed or displayed on your website providing they are kept intact and a link/attribution to this website or Internet Merchandising Systems plus authorship is displayed.




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