The people at Practical eCommerce asked me to give a single idea for their monthly 10 Great Ecommerce Ideas piece for February 2011. I thought about it a lot and came up with this word of advice that helps overstockArt.com push the envelope to become great at what we do:
Jim Collins wrote in his book “Good to Great” that the enemy of great is good. An e-commerce company should question all of its key processes and seek to find a better way. In many organizations things get done a certain way because “that is how we’ve always done it”. And in a market channel that is consistently evolving this could be detrimental to business success.
The first place to start is by identifying the most important factors of your business. For most e-commerce companies it is focusing on what causes sales. If that is the case then it is the perfect place to start, and if it is done right it will get to almost every part of your organization. Start by examining your marketing channels and evaluate each one. Ask yourself does this activity provide a positive ROI? Does the return meet our expectations? What else can be done to improve performance (even if it performs very well). If the performance does not meet expectation, should we cut this? What should we add to the marketing mix. What new marketing activities can we invest in and what are the expected results?
When considering your marketing remember bringing traffic to the site is only step one. If you are an e-commerce merchant the more important factor is bringing traffic that buys. Traffic is considered a leading indicator by most, but I believe that it could very well be a misleading indicator. You want traffic that interacts with you and most importantly, you want traffic that buys your product or service.
You should follow the same steps in every part of your organization and see where improvements can be made. This simple methodology keeps your organization on a consistent improvement path.