July 1, 2013

Thinking Beyond Tomorrow

CalendarAre you focused on the big picture of your business or are you just trying to get through another day?  Don’t be ashamed if the answer is the former – that’s the way many companies, big and small, operate.  As many of you know, I do some consulting and there’s one client in particular, a large client, that I’ve been working with for close to four years.  One or my original tasks years ago was to get one part of the business online.  This was the first part of the company to go online from an e-commerce standpoint (beyond just having a website) and it was a long, hard slog to get all the buy-in necessary and convince the executives that this wasn’t going to implode on them.  It certainly wasn’t easy but the great news is that now that one piece of business generates over a million dollars of revenue for the company – up about 25% from where it had been before this program was implemented.

Not surprisingly, the executives are now frothing at the mouth to get every other piece of e-commerce business they can online as quickly as possible.  Right now the company is in the midst of a massive, frantic scurry, a deadline looming, to “get this online.”  Which made me raise the question, to what purpose?  Why are we rushing to get everything online?  What are we going to do with it once it’s online?  How are we going to measure the success of the programs when they’re online?  How are we going to market the fact that they are online and drive consumers to them?  What do we plan to do with the data that’s collected so as to try and make the customers’ shopping experience in the future more streamlined and personalized?

Don’t get me wrong, I actually think that it’s a good thing that we move these other programs online but there needs to be a strategy and reason behind that beyond simply “get this online.”  There is not currently a larger e-commerce strategy and how that fits with the company’s vision and mission, there are no associated e-commerce goals or any yardsticks to help us measure success or failure, and there is no one cohesive team leader that is leading this charge.  We are simply trying to “get this online.”  So what happens when we do that.  Then what?

The point of today’s article is not to complain, but to ask you the very same question.  As you work towards launching a new product, incorporating a new social media tool into your marketing mix, or perhaps even starting to sell your products online, do you know what you hope to achieve, long-term, by doing so?  If not we tend to spend a lot of time running around trying to meet deadlines that don’t really move the needle for our companies.  And that’s exhausting, isn’t it?

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