When setting up an e-commerce function you might want to get some retail therapy from an expert.
E-commerce is both an overused word we're all completely sick of and a business channel that isn't going to go away. Some companies use the term e-commerce to describe the fact they conduct business over e-mail. Others slap a woefully dull site up on the World Wide Web and wait for the throngs to clamour to see it, and call that e-commerce.
But the organisations truly embracing e-commerce are those using a Web presence to generate and secure transactions online and link this to their back office. But it's no mean feat. We're way past the giddy experimentation phase when a company selling gift-wrapped peanuts or something equally ridiculous online could become millionaires overnight. Add to that the amount of stock being sold online and rising customer expectations and you have a very good case for outsourcing.
Under the umbrella of e-commerce comes Web design, branding, domain name registration, Web hosting, publishing on search engines, 2D and 3D animation, logistics, and warehouse fulfillment at the back-end. An outsourcing partner can share warehouse space and resources among other online merchants and companies, and integrate your inventory and planning systems, letting you retain control of the service experience. This is on top of the benefit true of most outsourcing -- the freeing up of your time to concentrate on your core business. After all, how many of us have a spare Web developer lurking on our payroll?
John Debrincat, CEO of eCorner, an Australian-owned provider of e-business solutions and services, says your organisation may not have the necessary internal capabilities to handle an e-commerce project. "The cost of outsourcing can be significantly less, the IT infrastructure is more dependable, and internally there may be a lack of access to the available bandwidth to run a successful e-commerce site," he says. "The key to e-commerce is availability. To ensure 24 x 7 capabilities requires a level of competence and IT capability that is not necessarily available in-house. Hosting companies generally offer 99 percent availability as a basic part of the package," he adds.
According to Karl Bowen, vice president of outsourcing at Capgemini, there is a lot of "e-commerce money" being spent as companies continue to look to give better access to their customers. "Economies of scale are the main benefit of outsourcing. For example, we've worked in recent months with a consortium of local government councils, building the software application, infrastructure, and support to build Councils Online, which brings the public online to the councils in an electronic format," says Bowen. "These councils would never have been able to afford to develop this individually."
| E-commerce: enter the experts|| What's it worth?|
| The ghost of dotcom past|| Long-term benefits|