In a small business environment e-commerce is often thought of as no more than an online catalog and shopping cart with little to no effort made to transition an existing base of business onto an e-commerce platform.
However, in our opinion it's not effective to operate a traditional relationship based business outside of an e-commerce strategy as it leaves the base business vulnerable to attack by competitors who have deployed more sophisticated systems.
If a small business can successfully establish and operate from an integrated platform it will permit a business transformation to take place once management fully understands how to exploit the potential.
A business has customers for a good reason, namely there's a value proposition that its customers recognize and is sufficient to motivate them to send in orders. However, implementing a fully integrated e-commerce solution can facilitate taking an existing business online and, in doing so, improve the customer experience.
Until this core business is conducted online, the chances are the value proposition is being eroded and that a serious threat to the business exists. Savvy competitors are already implementing sophisticated technology platforms and quickly expanding their abilities to reach-out and contact more prospective customers, nurturing them with better offers and improved transaction and information work-flow efficiency. Inevitably, some of the customers they reach out to and win will have been previous customers of businesses that failed to recognize and mitigate this threat by deploying their own integrated e-commerce solution.
WHAT MUST BE DONE...
In order to effect business transformations as well as to protect an existing base of business it's vital to get that business online and to deploy state-of-the-art inbound marketing and CRM software. Not only will this facilitate improved service to existing customers it will also help with the development of sales leads through the pipeline until they become loyal, long-term customers. So, once in place, not only will existing customers have a better experience but the technology for efficiently and effectively expanding that customer base and grow sales will also be in place.
Most would not dispute there's a clear migration of business from offline to online taking place. This migration would not be occurring if it wasn't improving business efficiency and customer experience. So for an old-school business operating on disjointed information technology systems and with little to no e-commerce activity the outlook is not promising.
For the longer term, as business owners consider exit strategies then, in order to attract quality buyers and justify attractive multiples on earnings, not only does the business have to be profitable with a history of revenue growth, it has to be efficient, and on-line with strong repeat and organic web-traffic.
If a business isn't online and and hasn't "cracked the code" for developing site traffic then;
1. It will be worth less to a prospective acquirer.
2. It will also likely be much smaller and less profitable than it otherwise could have been.
3. Ultimately, economics dictate that less efficient enterprises are eliminated.
Understanding the full value of an integrated information technology platform and how this becomes the foundation for growth can be difficult to understand. Why not download our free e-Book written specifically for small independent resellers in the office products industry. Just click on the button below.