Archive for online

Internet strategies for SME’s

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2010 by newideasconsult

Very often, and especially on LinkedIn.com I read about people and companies wanting to start their own online business, and most often they ask for a recommended ‘shopping cart’ or ‘e-store’ software to build their venture on.  Most often too, when you respond to them and ask them for more information regarding what they wish to do, it becomes clear that they wanted to start the plan by securing a good platform, a e-commerce system on which to build their business.

That sounds perfectly logical and for many mom-and -pop type business ideas, the cookie-cutter approach works.  Much like SAP can sort out processes within a company that implements it because it enforces certain rules on them required for it to work correctly, these e-commerce systems will force people to think through what it is they need before being able to launch their business.  Without certain key features being addressed within such a system, the site won’t go into production or won’t work correctly when you try to take it into production.  So for the majority of small ideas for an e-store type business these products will work very well, and I often recommend my favorites to some of these questioning parties.

However, starting with selecting an e-commerce platform when you’ve got an Internet idea, is possibly the worst decision you can make.  We used to say that on the Internet everything and anything is possible, but we try and box them all in similar ‘open source’ or ‘commercial’ e-c0mmerce platforms these days.  Imagine if we accepted that art could only be done on a canvas – we would have some wonderful pieces of art to this day, but we would not have a ‘Sistine Chapel’ or Michelangelo’s ‘David’ or Villa of the Mysteries.

If as an SME you are planning to go on the Internet and launch your e-business there, try and think expansively and plan like the corporates and brands do.  Work out what it is you want to do, what you want to sell to your customers, and how you want them to experience this.  Put together a business plan and a strategy to achieve it online.  You cover the basics, for example, you would need to be ‘connected’ to the Internet to enable your business, you would need to have a payment system or bank connected to enable you to do paid for services or product sales, and you will need a fulfilment service and a customer service, and so on.  But the way you plan your online presence, its shape, its function, its look, and its exposure, all contribute to the customer experience of your idea, your plan, your business.

Once you have these all down on a document, no matter how rudementary, sit down with someone, friend or family or local consultant who are Internet savvy, to work through it with you to grow your idea into a mature model  before looking for an e-commerce system to enable your business.  Only after such an exercise would recommendations for e-commerce systems make any sense to you or have any value for your business.  Planning your e-commerce venture this way enables you to better choose an open source e-commerce platform, a commercial e-commerce platform or a design agency to provide the vehicle on which to launch it.  At the same time you are better equipped to answer the questions the bank or payment processor will ask of you before awarding you an account against which to accept card, e-wallet, and/or ACH payments.

There are more details to the above, but this post is about getting people to sit down and plan their idea out before jumping on the most popular e-commerce platform and trying to force your idea to work through it.