Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a king who wanted to increase his kingdom, but did not know how. The King’s best knight had heard that neighboring kingdoms had experienced great success using ecommerce initiatives. The King was intrigued and wanted to know more.
“What is ecommerce?” said the King.
“We will harness the magical powers of the dragon called Internet and sell our wares online,” said the Knight. “We will reach peoples in far away lands without ever having to leave our castle! What used to take months and months to accomplish will happen in the blink of an eye and we won’t have to lift a finger. It will be amazing! Everyone will know about your kingdom, and the goods our people produce, and they will want to buy from us. We will be rich, Sire!”
The King thought long and hard about this mysterious ecommerce and asked, “How much will it cost and how long will it take? And who will tangle with the dragon?”
“The cost is cheap because the store we build is made out of air. We will need no wood or stone to create ecommerce. It is fast to build and it only takes a few people to create. The magician can handle the dragon for us. We will be rich!”
The King liked the idea of making more money.
“Make it so.”
The Knight consulted the king’s magician who harnessed the power of the great dragon, Internet, and a few of the King’s brightest subjects worked hard and produced a store that was not made of wood or stone.
The store that was not wood nor stone was unrivaled throughout the lands and people from far, far away all wanted to purchase the products that the King’s people made and he grew richer and richer every day–and no one lifted a finger. And they all lived happily every after. The End.
Don’t you love a good fairy tale? I know that I do, but the story above is a bit of a stretch, even for a fairy tale. For one, the mythical beast, Internet, wasn’t around in the Middle Ages (although it is a bit of a mythical beast). Second, launching an enterprise ecommerce initiative is rarely as simple as the story makes it seem. Unfortunately, all too often companies, like the King in the story above, look to ecommerce as the fast, cheap, and painless solution to their business growth questions.
Don’t get me wrong–I think there’s a place for most every company within ecommerce. My qualm is that a good ecommerce solution is rarely fast, cheap, and painless simultaneously. You can get any two of the three at one time, but not all three. If it’s fast and painless, it won’t be cheap. If it’s cheap and painless, it won’t be fast. You get the idea.
So, what is an enterprise company supposed to do? I’m glad you asked. Add ecommerce to your sales mix as a viable sales channel alternative but keep in mind that an integrated ecommerce site:
- Takes some time to build–at least, if you want it to truly fit your business model and meet your business need. This is not to say it will take forever, but it rarely happens overnight. Keep in mind that time spent getting it right on the front end is extremely valuable and will save you lots of headaches on the back end.
- Requires a level of financial investment. All sites are not created equal–basic designs are less expensive, customized platforms with lots of bells and whistles will cost more. Keep in mind that, generally, you get what you pay for. Cutting corners on key design features for your site to save a few bucks might not be the best idea in the long run. Talk to your professional ecommerce partner about what you need and what it will cost to build. Consider launching features in phases if the initial estimate boggles your mind.
- Needs your input and participation in the design process. Any company that pretends you don’t need to be a part of the design and build process is likely to leave you less than satisfied. Be prepared for in-depth discussions about your needs and how you want the site to work. Like I said above, detailed plans on the front end save time, money and disappointment on the back end.
Ecommerce is a powerful tool, especially for the enterprise level organization. Harness its power and create results worthy of a fairy tale.