E-Commerce, Lite

Sep 01, 2003 9:30 PM  By

Psst! Can you keep a secret? E-commerce is making a comeback. That was the pervasive belief at a bellwether show, Etail 2003, which took place in Boston last August. But don’t roll out the red carpet just yet. This time around, the glamour is notably absent. What you’ll see, instead, are caution and common sense. Below, guidelines for keeping your sanity, from e-commerce heavyweights who attended the show:

  1. Prioritize. Even a mega-retailer like Gap Inc. won’t throw money at uncertain Web projects, says Gap Direct vice president Cornell Williams. “You have to define the technology requirements that work with the business, not make the business fit the technology.”

  2. Simplify. To keep e-commerce nimble, your technological tools must be simple, advises Alloy Inc. CTO Bob Bell. “Aim for the lowest common denominator,” he says. “Execution is important, but it is sustainable execution that is critical.”

  3. Measure. “Science beats conjecture every time,” says Kevin Ertell, senior VP of consumer direct at Tower Records. His formula: Use tools that complement each other, focus on data on which you can take action, and apply the “CARE” principle to measurements — collect, analyze, react, and evaluate.

  4. Manage. Some sensitivity training may be in order for dot-commers accustomed to thinking of themselves as “special.” Says Scott Bauhofer, senior vice president of Best Buy: “Never say that you’re going to apply your ‘best and brightest’ people to a new Web initiative. What does that say about the people left behind?”

  5. Chill. Internet fervor can be fatal, as journalist Mike Langberger warns. “A new generation of low-cost RFID tags, combined with the Internet’s power to instantly move data around the world, is prompting some Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors to tout RFID as a candidate for The Next Big Thing,” wrote Langsberger in The Miami Herald on August 11. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re entering the familiar Silicon Valley cycle of over-enthusiasm followed by a letdown when instant riches fail to materialize.”