Magazine article Marketing

Going Live

Magazine article Marketing

Going Live

Article excerpt

Creative innovation is important in a new website venture -- but time to market and sales performance must be the main drivers

It might seem an obvious point, but a successful electronic commerce site depends on sales, not on fancy bells and whistles. Given the power of new technology, it's easy to get side-tracked by those creative types into implementing all sorts of complex features and visuals -- and lose sight of both the deadline and the customer in the process.

IT solutions firm Unisys believes critical success factors for world-class electronic business solutions are time to market; marketing and branding; performance and scalability; an iterative implementation approach; and innovation. "These differentiate a successful site from 'me-too' solutions that are destined to fail," says Ian Wallace, director of electronic commerce at Unisys Europe.

Time to market is often the overriding consideration, as the first implementation of a new Internet application can become the de facto standard, as we have seen with Dixon's FreeServe, Tesco's Internet home shopping and Amazon.com, the book retailer.

"While it is important to consider an Internet strategy before investing considerable time and money, it is equally important to move quickly to the initial implementation," says Wallace. "Taking months considering your options usually means you have no options. But getting to market quickly is all very well, but you will fail if you don't have the right brand identity and the right marketing plan to promote that brand."

Failure in terms of lack of availability, poor performance and poor design can kill a website. Organisations need to build electronic business solutions that are resilient, high performance and are designed to meet the needs of your audience, which could receive thousands of "hits" a day.

"Although we have made internal savings, the first thing to focus on is to differentiating yourself from the competition and gaining external competitive advantage," says Chris Hall, e-commerce manager at Dell UK. "Success should be measured in terms of overall revenue growth and market share across all channels."

"Success is not about having the fastest, glitziest website with all the latest features," adds Nigel Ford, e-commerce marketing manager at SAP UK. "The winners and losers in electronic commerce will be determined by back-office fulfilment and delivery. Rock-solid integration between the website storefront and the internal financial and logistics applications is a key to success. …

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