A six-year-old boy and a billion-dollar
customer may not have much in common. However, neither will forgive you if you don't
deliver what you promised.
At every site, I was confronted with the same bad news - "Item not currently available." I was ready to give up my quest and buy my nephew a ball and bat. Then, I saw it - Games That Don't Suck (www.gamesthatdontsuck.com), an online vendor that not only had the game in stock, but also claimed to be "the cheapest place in the world to buy video games." In hindsight, the name of the company should have given it away. Despite the name, the site seemed to be on the up-and-up. And, I was desperate. After diligently filling out the online order form, I placed my order and began the waiting game. The site promised fulfillment in three days, but that time had passed and the order never arrived. I quickly fired off a terse e-mail asking for an explanation. The reply caught me by surprise. I could understand, "The order will be delayed." However, what I read was essentially, "Going out of business."
The Back End Delivers The Goods
The number of e-commerce business-to-business and business-to-consumer transactions is growing at a staggering rate, and with good reason. There are tremendous operational savings to be had by doing business electronically. Any company can create a business plan or throw up a Web site and hope for success. But, have these companies actually planned for success?
Master Lock, Inc. (click here for feature article), for example, has three distinct business units within its company to handle specific segments of its customer base. The company refers to this as its front end. However, it's the back end that must manufacture products and deliver them to the entire customer base - be it retail, commercial distributor, or OEM (original equipment manufacturer). And, as Master Lock demonstrates, this means integrating enterprise-wide solutions. For its part, Master Lock is completing an ERP (enterprise resource planning) implementation that interfaces with the company's warehouse management system (WMS), radio frequency (RF) technology, business intelligence tools, and mass storage system.
Explore Enterprise Solutions
Your company may or may not need an ERP system or a WMS. However, you would be terribly remiss if you didn't at least explore all your technology options. You might just be surprised at the number of vendors that have enterprise solutions for your market and price range. The price of implementation may seem high, but it is nothing compared to the business you might lose over the long haul. Whether you are making a promise to your suppliers or to your customers, you must deliver the goods. The fate of your business truly depends on this fact.
Unlike Games That Don't Suck, you should be prepared to handle success. If you are not, your customers will likely take their business elsewhere. In fact, that's what I did. And, I was willing to pay through the nose. God bless eBay. Sure, the Pokemon Yellow Special Pikachu Edition cartridge cost me twice the list price. But, it arrived by Christmas, and I was a hero.
Questions about this article? E-mail the author at EdH@corrypub.com.