Commonsense planning has protected companies from becoming casualties on the e-commerce battlefield.
The dotcom hype won over many investors who were subsequently severely burned by what is now referred to as dotbomb.
Carl Mostert, chief executive officer, Spescom Software
In spite of these events there is no doubt that e-commerce is well and truly in place and companies not in possession of an e-commerce strategy will simply not compete in the market.
E-commerce is similar to a revolution, which is, by nature, volatile. In this explosive market, companies wishing to implement commerce enabled websites, should approach their strategies with caution.
Many companies are so intent on 'not missing the bandwagon' that they are rushing into e-commerce without considering all elements needed to attain the desired efficiencies of their new technology.
There is no substitute for normal, sound business practices, including maintaining good relationships with existing customers, making profit and keeping stakeholders happy. It is too easy to ignore these age-old, trusted truths in the headlong dash into the much-touted 'new world economy'.
A carefully considered strategy that vertically integrates all components of both the supply chain and customer chain is therefore essential.
The second cautionary principle is to choose reliable partners. No company can face the e-commerce challenge alone and every resource - both in-house and outsourced - will have to be harnessed with the aim of satisfying the customer.
Companies need to look at the total package offered by their technology partners, including the skills set, business expertise and understanding of the customer's vertical market.
Ensuring a customer-centric, as opposed to a product focused approach to business, is a third, vital component to success. Companies should realise that products are now simply commodities - they will not survive in future if their focus is product as opposed to customer orientated.
Finally, the move towards e-commerce should rather be viewed as enhancing the way a company does business, than as a clean sweep replacement to the way business was done in the past. E-commerce capability should form part of the company's overall service offering.
If companies are trying so hard to reach new customers that they are neglecting the needs of their existing customer base, then they place themselves in a perilous position.
Serving customers is not new. However, there is no doubt that technology will enhance business relationships and improve the enterprise's chances of retaining its customers. Careful selection of technology enabled relationship management (TERM) strategies, solutions and partners will go a long way to ensuring the success of the e-commerce venture.