Here are some points to think about if you have a web site or are investigating the feasibility of building one. The points covered in this article are the basis for the E-Commerce course being taught this fall term at COCC as part of the Business Administration Department’s Entrepreneurship Specialization and Business Development Center’s ongoing training and assistance programs.
Identify your E-Commerce goals.
In few cases is the web site the focus of the business. The web site should be evaluated based on how it contributes to all aspects of the business. Each service that the site provides to the customer can require its own unique technology and security requirements. But once promoted as a way to access the company and it’s product or service, the site should be a reference point for any question, any kind of interaction, the customer has or wants.
Create a focus and identity.
The objective is not to just create activity on a site, but to attract those customers and potential customers that you can actually serve, or supply chain partners that can help you succeed.
Provide value for everyone that visits your site.
A web site should not be a dead end street off the information highway. Whether it is a referral to another supplier, to the appropriate phone number or e-mail within the company, or valuable free product information, the site should provide value for everyone who visits.
Contract with developers and providers that can deliver what you need to enhance the customer’s experience.
Remain focused on what services you want to deliver to the online customer or supply chain partner.
Build an appropriate and comprehensive budget.
An appropriate budget includes the impact an effective site will have on every department; it includes the allocation of resources for constant, if not real-time, update; and it constitutes an added consideration in advertising and promotion budgets.
Understand the legal issues that come with E-Commerce.
When your business goes online, it immediately goes international and its content goes digital. Issues of content ownership and information confidentiality and security arise.
Apply the appropriate technology.
A web site should not be a love affair with technology, but an application of technology appropriate for the online service to be delivered and for the technical level of the customer or supply chain partner to be served.
Constantly maintain and promote the site and its content.
This means that the promotion of the site should be constant, and consistent regarding it basic offer, and ever changing regarding the specific need that brings customers to the site at that time. The content needs to follow the same pattern.
Use the proper methods to evaluate your E-Commerce success.
One of the most ignored areas of business information is the “no sale”. Online, this person’s shopping pattern can be assessed. So beyond just evaluating the sales impact of an online presence, there are countless data sources and process efficiencies that need to be factored into the final measure of online success.
In the seven week E-Commerce course for which this article is an outline, the strategic and technical aspects of each of these points will be covered in more detail. The objective of the course is that each participant will leave with a plan identifying how an online presence can improve their business.
The class meets on Tuesdays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., eight weeks from September 19 to November 7. For more information regarding the course, dates, times, or registration, contact the COCC Business Development Center, 383-7290.
Ken Atwell is an instructor of business administration at Central Oregon Community College. For more information about the Entrepreneurship Program, workshops, and certificates or just to talk to someone about your business, call (541) 383-7290 or 383-7713.