Now that youve gotten started with a simple Web site, you may be thinking about the next step: How to move at least portions of your business to a new platform, the World Wide Web. In other words, how your company can begin to do e-commerce.
Len Pagon, founder of Web developer New Media, offered suggestions for what he calls the e-visioning process at a recent gathering hosted by his company. They included:
Consider a vertical rather than horizontal approach to getting connected with stakeholders.
As they embark on e-commerce, a lot of business owners naturally try to simultaneously connect their companies with everyone vendors, customers, distributors and staff. But Pagon thinks a more sensible approach is to first pay attention to the group which will provide the biggest bang for the buck key, high-volume clients.
Instead of diluting your efforts by trying to deal with everybody, you can focus in on the 10 or 20 percent that will get you there quickest, he says. That gets your highest volume online and more transactions online quickly. Lets pick your highest-volume customer today and get them connected.
Dont worry about perfection, just get version 1.0.
People inexperienced with the Web can get a little gun-shy and bogged down in too much planning of the site up front. A more effective way to build an e-commerce site is through a series of prototypes which people can react to (with their comments incorporated into future redesigns).
I dont want to look at 20 pages of plans, I want to try it [the site]. So prototyping is a good way of getting ready to launch, says Pagon.
After all, you can always do a soft, or beta, launch, where youre still essentially looking for bugs and tinkering with the final version.
Give people some good reason to interact with your site.
Pagon calls it a prominent call to action, but by whatever name, youd better give visitors some reason to come and to return. Whether its some kind of contest to spark interest, splashy or otherwise unusual prose to nab readers, or some other inducement which stands out from the clutter of the Web, youd better offer visitors something to stimulate their doing business with you.
Dont overreact to perceived threats from purely Web competitors.
All the attention thats been given to pure dot.com sites which exist only in cyberspace, with no physical structure behind them and all the predictions about how they spell the death-knell for bricks-and-mortar competitors, is faulty, he thinks.
Theres a new catch phrase: clicks-and-mortar. The people that are really going to have a lot of strength are the people who have both a physical presence with stores or other tangible facilities, as well as a virtual presence on the Web. Dot.com companies are good, because they get past the inertia. But the problem is, theyre not leveraging their brick-and-mortar assets. How to reach: New Media, (216) 518-7900
John Ettorre (email@example.com) is a contributing editor at SBN.