What is the state of your e-commerce system?

Recently I’ve been involved with a project that involves researching what leading B-to-B and B-to-C catalogers are doing in the area of e-commerce systems. Specifically, what, if any, systems they’re using to conduct search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click (PPC), e-mail programs and online ordering. The project has been a real eye opener due to the fact that there doesn’t appear to be any established best practice. As a group of direct marketers, we appear to be “all over the map.” Most of us are struggling with staffing implementation and have no idea how to evaluate our results. Here are the kinds of things I hear:

* “E-commerce is complex and ever-changing, we just can’t seem to get ahead of the learning curve”;

* “We can’t find the experienced staff, our team keeps changing….”;

* “We’ve learned there’s not one person called ‘e-commerce director’ who can do it all like the ‘circulation director’ can on the mail side”;

* “The minimum staffing and investment required seems to keep growing each year”;

* “We don’t know what we don’t know and wonder how that impacts us”;

* “We have a hard time finding out what ‘best practices’ in all the different e-commerce areas really are”; and

* “We have several vendors helping us in the different areas — SEO, e-mail, PPC, online ordering, etc. — but we can’t seem to tie it all together.”

Sound familiar? I think most companies are doing an OK job in this area of their business, but nowhere near as well as they’re doing with circulation, purchasing, product development or catalog production … areas where skills and best practices have been honed over many years.

I’m not sure there’s a good answer to many of these issues yet, but the first step for any direct marketer is to properly understand the questions and issues before they go searching for the answers. Where does your company stand on these issues? In future columns I’ll convey what I’m able to discover.

Have a comment? Please provide me with your feedback at tjukes@b2bdmi.com .

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fl., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes@b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221 (direct line).

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221

Comments or questions are welcome.

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