Is your company’s e-commerce system maximizing its potential value and return on investment? If it’s not, are the clues obvious? Not necessarily. Many manufacturers are missing out on valuable information if they’re not assessing their e-commerce system regularly. Think of a B2B e-commerce system as its own growth strategy—and then stay on top of its progress.
The e-commerce system assessment
Some of the items listed below are considered “givens” in the assessment process. Nevertheless, it helps to have them on the checklist.
- Full range scalability. Manufacturers want to know their website is prepared to handle all of the peaks and valleys of its traffic expectations. When assessing scalability, look at criteria like the number of page views each visitor makes on average per visit and the average response time on the home page. Get familiar with data such as the peak number of visits the site will support and how many orders per day the site takes. Keep in mind—the system’s ability to handle peak traffic speaks volumes about an e-commerce system’s worth.
- Reporting and analytics. Does the e-commerce website have all of the features necessary to understand the online business? E-commerce websites are packed with data about customer behaviors and preferences, but manufacturers struggle with the best way to leverage this information into business value. Remember, whatever isn’t measured also isn’t controlled. Discover how the site captures and stores both historic and behavioral data. Also, learn about potential insights that can be gained from customer searches.
- Empower merchandisers. Manufacturers should look for tools that their business managers can use themselves. A system application that will directly empower merchandisers, marketing managers and others is a smart move. Find out if the product and category managers can control their portion of the catalog. Ultimately, it would be beneficial if—without requiring IT assistance—executives could pull up their own standard reports and merchandisers could define promotion and discounts on product orders and shipments.
- Standards. Find out if the application is built on a standards-based platform. E-commerce must run on a standards-based platform that can be supported by standard skill sets across the organization. Most elements in an e-commerce application may be either self-contained or driven by other systems. In other words, look for modularity. Get answers to questions like where does the application store customer data, and which system owns the master product catalog.
- Catalog construction. How well the website is constructed matters a great deal. This is the place customers go to find what they need, so that information must be easy to find, plausibly explained and promotionally effective. Learn the system’s limitations. For example, how many categories and subcategories will it support?
- Integration. How easily can the application integrate with other systems? Again, look for modularity. This feature allows for customization of each individual aspect of the application. Find out information like where the system stores customer data, which system owns the master product catalog, which application owns pricing and how fraud detection is handled.
Look beyond the fine print
Increasingly, manufacturers are becoming aware that the real differences from one e-commerce application to another aren’t apparent at first glance. That’s why knowing what questions to ask and what criteria to consider is essential through every step of an e-commerce platform’s growth. For a meaningful assessment of your e-commerce site, call Global Data Sciences at (630) 299-5196.