How To Be An eCommerce Success

The difference between a successful e-commerce venture and a "dot-bomb" is a mixture of many elements. Most of them amazingly obvious. Of course, hindsight is an exact science. If we look at the mistakes of the past, we can ensure we don't make them again. 

The major question here is, how do we define "e-commerce success"?

Quite simply, it is an e-commerce website that actively makes a net profit. With this in mind we can consider that a customer is only a click away, your website is only a click away to oblivion too. You will not get a chance to explain why you let them down in one way or another like you may in a bricks and mortar store. You have to get this right the first time. These critical areas are primarily:

Customer service: Outstanding customer service is a major failing of many enterprises. Online customers have a choice, they are not restricted by geographical boundaries. If you don't offer excellence, they will go somewhere that does. There is much more about critical customer service that is beyond the scope of this website. However, we plan to bring you an in-depth study in the near future.

Image: The design of your website must look and function with a professional edge about it. Don't make the mistake of ruining your offline reputation with a poorly designed and amateur web site. Read more about this in the chapter "Building your site"

Knowing your target audience: This is another fundamental failing. Many of the Dotcom failures utilised the latest technology for their web pages and failed to notice that their intended viewers did not have the technology available to view the them. A glaring example of this is Javascript and Flash5. Until recently, used a page that appeared blank unless you had your browser settings set to suit them.

With each passing day, more and more mobile devices are able to access the world wide web and more and more people are viewing the web through their TV's. If your target audience includes these people, the importance of a website that is viewable in these mediums cannot be over stressed.

Marketing: The final primary blunder was the poor marketing. Money was poured into allsorts of irrelevant areas for advertising. Even down to paid listings in Search engines. Many of which did not even serve the population of that country to any relevant degree. 

If we can get the "big four" above right, we have a grounding for success. Add to this the possibility of selling advertising space, affiliate programs etc. We can top up our income. 

to add to the formula for success, we need to realise the importance of the following secondary criteria;

Customer Power: Much more information is available to the customer to make informed decisions before committing to a purchase. Knowing this, they should always be treated with the respect of an industry expert. The likelihood is you really don't know the level of their understanding.

Income Bursts: Consider this, you get a flood of orders, they begin to stack up and then the customers start going cold. one by one they begin to leave, never to return. Next month there are very few orders if any at all. This may seem a logical overstatement but the reality has often been a result of the competition, not just flagging customer service. That first month you were at the top of the search engines for your product, thousands upon thousands of visitors came into your site and hundreds made purchases. Next month, your competitors have had their website re-optimised and taken that number one position from you. Those thousands are now visiting that site instead. To add to this problem the slow service is driving the few remaining customers away. Dealing with massive orders quickly is something you need to be prepared for, they may tide you over until you get your site back at the top again. In short, "be prepared to make money in short sharp bursts".

Rounding Up

By this stage, you will probably know whether you are ready to take your business into the global arena or not. If you are still not sure, consider the following.

With an e-commerce presence, your potential customers can number several million.

Unique products are better served by the internet. Take a look at the unique product these people have IDS, then check out their rather impressive client list. (Yes they are a client of ours).

Global e-commerce is less affected by economic climates. Australian e-commerce is experiencing great financial returns from US and UK orders.

Finally, we need to address the issue of not going online. The outlook for bricks and mortar only retailers is somewhat bleak. With the growing number of online sales and better priced products, how will this affect your industry? We have already mentioned that there is a 30% increase in sales over the last 12 months. With the popularity of mobile phones and internet ready TV's, what will the future hold for the offline part of your industry?

Next, finding the path: B2B or B2C

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