I’ve been thinking alot about Web strategy these days. Everything is costing more and companies left and right are tightening their corporate belts. How do the Web pioneers, Internet evangelists and ecommerce directors tread water in these tough times? Very carefully… Your company’s Web strategy plays a big part in allowing profits to continue trending up. No doubt about it, small companies are getting hit hard but, they are not the only ones. Big businesses are relying on their Web sites and the strategy behind those sites to keep the giant ships afloat also.
A good article came out yesterday on Ecommerce Times site – An E-Tailers Guide to Surviving the Down Economy. The article points to a couple of trends in the marketplace that is driving best practices in Web strategy and techonolgy. These are, component driven platforms and the availablity of compressed online systems that are available. This is true, if you got money to redo or build a site, the platforms and frameworks for ecommerce sites have come along way and they will save you many headaches in the future. So the strategy is to pick and buy a kick ass system to power your site. Then implement a kick ass front end that is rich in design, form and most importantly in functionality. This seems right on, although seemingly a no brainer.
The article did make a couple of interesting points that caught my eye though.
Rising oil prices and the shift in economic climate have left small business competing for bargain-conscious shoppers — shoppers that are keeping a short leash on their wallet. This ‘dollar consciousness’ and the need to conserve expensive fuel are driving shoppers to choose the mega-retailer’s convenience and price offering over selection and service.
Depending on what kind market your in, this is an interesting factor.
While there is clearly no ‘silver bullet,’ strategies are available that entrepreneurs can use to generate customer loyalty , increased sales and profits. Chief among this is the more efficient use of the Web site as a critical sales channel.
This statement seem to boil it down to what the objectives of the site are and the strategy is how you get there. I think the key is to create the rich functionality and web experiences that increase customer loyalty. Customer loyalty will come with the satifaction of the service and product once purchased. But on the Web, you can influence loyalty by providing experiences that people enjoy and keep them engaged to fully deliver the right information, marketing and branding.
Also you should concentrate on the more efficient use of the site as the main sales channel. A good majority of people want to touch and feel an important product before the buy it, so the Web strategy should become how to create the interface to provide that type of affirmation and confirmation to the users at purchase time. This one is tricky but with community ratings and video you can get close as long as the design is good.