E Commerce Plays Both Offense and Defense for Your BusinessI’m a recent convert to the world of college and WNBA basketball. Born and raised on visual arts, live music and theater, and hockey (yes, I know the last one is a bit of a misfit in the list), basketball was a bit foreign to me in a lot of ways. As I watched more and more live games though, it became clear that basketball wasn’t really all that different than hockey, except that there was no ice and the players didn’t wear helmets or carry sticks to whack other players with, thereby earning them time in the penalty box. Okay, so maybe it WAS a little more different than I was giving it credit for…

….so, I did what I always do in times like these: I research. I picked up a book. (Basketball for Dummies happens to be the appetizer in my basketball related research–I’m sure there will be more.) I hit up Google for terms I overheard but didn’t understand (e.g. “double-double” anyone?). I wanted to understand the nuances that other fans at the games seemed to understand innately. The more I understand, the more I enjoy the game.

(Wondering what my new-found love of basketball has to do with ecommerce? It’s coming.)

After I started reading about the nuances of the game, one of the things that struck me as I watched is that the same players on each team play both offensive and defensive positions during the same game. (They do that in hockey too, but for some reason it never occurred to me until I was watching live basketball.) The same players that are responsible for scoring points on the opponent’s basket are responsible for defending their own basket in hopes of keeping the other team from scoring. Players are expected to play both defensive and offensive positions–and play them well.

A well-executed ecommerce website enables both offensive and defensive strategies for your business. Not sure what I mean? Let me explain.

Ecommerce Business Strategies: Offense

When a player is playing in an offensive position, their goal is to do whatever it takes to make sure that their team scores a point. Whether the player actually makes the basket, assists in setting up the shot or blocks the other team’s players through strategic positioning or movement, the offensive player is all about making the point. Period. In the same way, a well-designed and well-implemented ecommerce initiative is all about converting visitors to customers and ultimately making the sale.

By leading the visitor through an intuitive and customer-centric buying experience, your ecommerce site is clearly looking to score a point through securing a sale. Likewise, when the site utilizes cross-selling techniques to encourage the visitor to purchase accessories and items that enhance or improve the original purchase, your ecommerce site is looking to put points on the board. In short, when an ecommerce site is intending to make or increase a sale, it’s definitely playing offense for your business.

Ecommerce Business Strategies: Defense

Like any versatile basketball player, your ecommerce site should also have an effective defensive game at the ready. When playing defense, a basketball player’s sole mission is to keep the other team from scoring a basket. Whether or not you realize it, your ecommerce site plays defense for your business all the time. Your ecommerce site is playing a defensive position when its public-facing pages help potential customers find your website (thereby keeping them from visiting the competition) or when it provides the information that your customer needs to make an educated buying decision. It’s also a defensive move when your ecommerce site provides important client-specific information such as order history, order tracking, account status, and FAQ documents on an anytime, anywhere basis. This capability is customer-focused and increases a customer’s engagement with your brand, your product and, as a result, your company. Engaged customers buy more and are less likely to stray to the competition.


If you don’t have an integrated ecommerce solution in place for your business, you are missing out on both offensive (increased sales / visitor conversions) and defensive (search engine optimization and a client-centric experience that builds relationships) business opportunities. Without a well-designed ecommerce site, chances are good that you are missing some key opportunities to grow your business.

To learn more about how to leverage the power of your B2B ecommerce site, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.