Getting into e-commerce is like buying a backyard pool: It looks real easy on the packaging, but when you start setting it up, you’ve got electrical, landscaping, insurance issues and a host of others that seemingly pop up out of nowhere.
With e-commerce, you’ll have to consider security issues, legal issues, network issues and compatibility, all the way down to nontechnical issues such as whether your nontechnical sales people know how to use the ’Net. Plus, you’ll have to consider supply-chain implications, such as what impact selling on the ’Net will do to your existing methods for getting product to market and what impact that will have upon your vendors, suppliers and customers.
The moment you begin thinking about integrating e-commerce and existing sales, break out the checklist and start at the top.
My company has an external sales staff and I’m considering buying them either laptop computers or handheld PDAs to use in the field. Is there much difference between the two?
Yep. PDAs have limits. Laptops are full-functioning computers, and some of them are really light, too. The question to ask is, “What are we going to do with this tool?”
If you’re just going to use e-mail applications, fPDAs will work fine. If your staff’s going to function on the road, just like you’d have them do at headquarters, you’d better give them laptops.
In the future, however, there will be little difference between the two. You’ll probably use your wristwatch to connect to your network. Think Dick Tracy, only cyber.
My customers are complaining that our company Web site is too cumbersome. We want to retool it, but don’t know where to begin. What should we do?
Look at your Web site from a home computer connected with a 28.8 modem. If you fall asleep waiting for pages to load, unplug it, fire your developer and start from scratch.
Think like a customer and build something that serves the customer’s need. Forget about how the site is built. Concentrate on what you want it to do and don’t settle for anything less. Otherwise, your company’s ability to compete on the Net could be at stake.
King Hill (firstname.lastname@example.org) is director of marketing services of DigiKnow, a Cleveland-based digital marketing communications firm with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to professional sports teams. He can be reached at (216) 292-7259 or on the Web at www.digiknow.com.