[thelist] What makes a good e-commerce website?

Luther, Ron ron.luther at hp.com
Wed Feb 2 07:23:39 CST 2005

Tim Burgan asked:

>>I'm asking from the point of view of:
>>what features should our e-commerce application have.

Hi Tim,

(I usually keep my nose out of the e-commerce questions, but I'm 
gonna wade in here anyway.)

I think it depends on your product ... 

* If you are selling 'digital wares'; MP3s, software, pdfs of research 
reports, videos, etc ... then you may want the ability to generate 
a 'one time use' password ... thats a need you wouldn't have if you 
were selling sweaters.

* If you are selling pre-packaged goods such as 'coffee cups' ... then 
you may not need extensive flexibility in allowing the user to specify 
'features' such as 'size', 'color', 'leather seats', 'AM/FM/CD player'.

* If you were selling 'usage for on-line gaming'; "1 hour of 'Frag XII' ", 
"4 hours of 'Quarter Life IV' " ... then you might need features for 
tracking that usage, popping up 'special deal' ads, etc.

I think it depends on your clientele ...

* You may want a whole bunch of nice features to manage a 'profile' 
if 90% of your business is repear customers ... otherwise you might 
not care about extensive flexibility for these features.

But, most of all, I also think it depends how well you need to integrate 
your site with the remaining corporate systems ... if you are selling 
manufactured goods, then you may need to link in to MRP, Order Promising, 
Inventory, etc. ... Does the site need to feed a legacy invoicing system? 
Does it need to receive and comprehend '856 signals' from your carriers? 
Do you need extensive 'management reporting' capabilities?

If so, then a system with fewer front-end 'e-features' and better 
back-end integration capabilities may be a better fit.

I don't think it's a 'one size fits all' question ... I think you need 
to understand _your_ business requirements ... and know which ones are 
'critical' and which are 'nice to have' ... I don't think we can 
do that for you.  You may need to go back to your 'biz' folks and 
make them work -- (OMG!) -- explaining to you, at great length and 
detail, exactly what their requirements and expectations are for this 
new system.  If you don't know what the goals are, then you can't 
measure, and proclaim, your 'success'.



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