You've Got to Keep It Integrated
If you see having a Web presence as just another channel to keep tabs on, well, you're right. Activating an additional channel for sales, customer service, etc., can be like opening Pandora's Box.
Out-of-sync inventory, marketing and back-end fulfillment can unleash untold havoc. And there's really not much, from a metrics perspective, to be done here other than track complaints. "How often are people complaining that there's a price difference or an availability discrepancy?" beckons Sterne. "How often is your distribution chain coming to you with lawsuits," he laughs.
Integrating your Web site with the rest of your company is an organizational philosophy. "You have to make that an area high enough up in the food chain that they have the authority to make it happen," says Sterne.
The key to a strong Web presence is a sense of purpose. During the e-commerce explosion of the late 1990s, many sites went up willy-nilly. Residue of that mad rush remains on many companies' sites.
Sterne recalls interviewing, a few years back, 25 companies for a white paper he was working on. The purpose, he says, was to find out what was being measured, how the information was being analyzed and what steps were then being taken.
The overriding response was that companies were overwhelmed with data, and didn't know what to do with it. This year Sterne inverviewed 50 companies for his book and asked them the same questions. Progress is being made, but we're not all the way there. "They said, 'Well, we're collecting a ton of data, we are cleansing the data, we are analyzing the data, we are crunching the numbers and creating these really lovely reports, and we're sending them out to the business units.' I said, 'OK, and then what?' They said, 'And then we do it again a week later.'"