In a small business environment, e-commerce is often thought of as no more than an online catalog and shopping cart with little to no effort to transition an existing business base onto an e-commerce platform.
However, in our opinion, operating a traditional relationship-based business outside of an e-commerce strategy is inadequate as it leaves the base business vulnerable to attack by competitors who have deployed more sophisticated systems.
If a small business can successfully establish and operate from an integrated platform, it will permit a business transformation once management fully understands how to exploit the potential.
A business has customers for a good reason. Namely, there's a value proposition that its customers recognize and is sufficient to motivate them to send in orders. However, implementing a fully integrated e-commerce solution can facilitate taking an existing business online and, in doing so, improve the customer experience.
Until this core business is conducted online, the chances are the value proposition is being eroded and that a severe threat to the company exists. Savvy competitors are already implementing sophisticated technology platforms and quickly expanding their ability to reach out and contact more prospective customers, nurturing them with better offers and improved transaction and information workflow efficiency. Inevitably, some of the customers they reach out to and win will have been previous customers of businesses that failed to recognize and mitigate this threat by deploying their own integrated e-commerce solution.
WHAT MUST BE DONE...
To effect business transformations and protect an existing business base, it's vital to get that business online and deploy state-of-the-art inbound marketing and CRM software. This will facilitate improved service to existing customers and help develop sales leads through the pipeline until they become loyal, long-term customers. So, once in place, existing customers will have a better experience, and the technology for efficiently and effectively expanding that customer base and growing sales will also be in place.
Most would not dispute there's a transparent migration of business from offline to online taking place. This migration would not be occurring if it wasn't improving business efficiency and customer experience. So the outlook is not promising for an old-school company operating on disjointed information technology systems and with little to no e-commerce activity,
For the longer term, as business owners consider exit strategies then, to attract quality buyers and justify attractive multiples on earnings, not only does the business have to be profitable with a history of revenue growth, it has to be efficient and online with solid repeat and organic web traffic.
If a business isn't online and hasn't "cracked the code" for developing site traffic, then;
1. It will be worth less to a prospective acquirer.
2. It will also likely be much smaller and less profitable than it otherwise could have been.
3. Ultimately, economics dictate that less efficient enterprises are eliminated.