Investing in eCommerce—8 Factors to Consider

Many organizations have embraced eCommerce, yet a sizeable number still have not—or perhaps just dabbled. An eCommerce strategy is not right for everyone. The reason—it’s all about the customer.

An eCommerce strategy is NOT right for everyone. The reason—it’s all about THE CUSTOMER. If your customers are not buying online sufficiently, then it’s not for you. For most however, an eCommerce strategy is crucial, so it makes good business sense to investigate.

It’s clearly important to tread with caution. This blog highlights some of the key factors that businesses should consider before taking the plunge.

Why eCommerce

It’s all about Economics. Customers buying online can save costs, time and effort. For a business, that means being more competitive.

For those selling online, the benefits are even greater. Self-serving customers help reduce your personnel costs, minimise P.O.S. space while giving the highest level of service every time. And, that just one example.

8 Key Considerations for Any Business Investing in eCommerce

So, eCommerce looks to be a sound business investment. However, before jumping in, there are 8 factors I suggest you should consider. You can get further information from our whitepaper here.

  1. Integration into Your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Solution

    This is arguably the most crucial area. Any eCommerce solution must completely integrate into an organisation’s Business System. Otherwise, there is the risk of high costs, delays and ongoing support issues.

    It must be able to link to stocking levels at every location, customer account details and credit, delivery management, manage promotions, marketing, alternative and equivalent products, and so much more.

  2. Stock Availability

    An effective stock control and management system is fundamental to any eCommerce solution. The online customer relies solely on the system to give accurate information.

    Online purchases of non-available items will create customer satisfaction issues and if available stock not is visible online, you lose sales opportunities.

  3. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

    Your eCommerce solution must be able to offer a high-ranking SEO. This means, if people are doing online searching for you or your solutions, you must be readily found. The higher the ranking, the better chance of leads and opportunities from your eCommerce solution.

  4. Modern Rich eEnvironment

    Forrester states that, “……their more experienced B2C brethren have much to teach them (B2B enterprises) about standards for customer experience and eCommerce best practices.” So, even a B2B eCommerce solution needs to offer a rich B2C experience.

    With a physical showroom, if customers don’t like it, they will go elsewhere. Similarly, your eCommerce solution must have an attractive feel, be intuitive and easily navigated.

    That user-friendly environment must also be available on any device, anywhere, anytime.

  5. Return on Investment (ROI)

    eCommerce potentially offers one of the best ROI models, assuming you research and listen to your customer.

    Here are some things to consider in the ROI calculation when investing in eCommerce:

    • eCommerce vs. a traditional (physical) investment
    • eCommerce cost estimations
    • How it supports growth from addressing a larger audience
    • Making customer specific information available to them (e.g. discounts)
    • Speed of implementation—also a reflection on the solution’s supportability
    • Cost of implementation; an ERP-ready eCommerce solution
  6. Adapting to Your Strategy

    Any eCommerce solution must adapt to your existing customers and business strategy--not the other way around.

    If growing new customers is a key strategy, then it must also be prospect-friendly.

    If you are just targeting (existing) B2B customers, then your eCommerce solution can be simpler.

    There are different solutions that address each, or both.

  7. References

    Like every investment, it's always important to check on references, particularly for your industry. Talk to the customers.

  8. Bespoke vs Standardised

    For some, where the needs are comparatively simple, a home-grown, or even bespoke eCommerce solution might be simplest solution.

    An industry-specific eCommerce vendor might be the solution for you, since it is designed for your market.

    Perhaps an off-the-shelf eCommerce solution that can be readily adapted for your business is the way forward.

    Whichever approach you adopt, it's crucial to ensure that you have covered off the questions already discussed, namely:

    • Ongoing support and upgrades (delivery and costs)
    • Implementation costs
    • ERP integration
    • Supply Chain integration
    • SEO Optimisation
    • References

Summary/Conclusion

eCommerce, is not for everyone. Do your customer research to avoid losing business to a lurking competitor.

Think customer. Your business flourishes on how well you satisfy your customer compared to your competition. If most of your customers have an interest in eCommerce, then, to be in business for the long-term, you must get on-board.

Author:

Nina Domingo, Epicor Consultants

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