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Sunday, September 13, 2009

This I Believe (A Manifesto for eCommerce)

A few weeks back Avinash wrote a post called 'This I Believe [A Manifesto for Web Marketing and Analysts]' and it really struck a chord with me. The Internet is still continuing to evolve, especially in eCommerce (and more so in Canada), where retailers are really starting to understand the power of the internet - not as another advertising medium, not as a sales channel but as a true means of engagement.

So here is what I believe is key to building a successful business online:

1. I believe that talent is more important than technology. eCommerce is a technology based business but it is the great teams that separate themselves from the rest of the field. When building a business or team focus on people first then process and technology. What makes a star? It is someone who is passionate about their role, is always looking for the next thing and doesn't mind getting their hands dirty. The best people and teams win, it isn't about the latest and greatest technologies.

2. I believe you need to fail to be successful but you need to fail fast. Fast failure is key to any growth business and if you are not failing you are not taking chances and you are not pushing the boundaries to truly learn where you or your business can go. Build a culture that encourages taking smart risks and rewards people that are working to take the business forward. I am passionate about this and spend more time on this with my leaders in building a culture that supports fast failure than anything else. Failure is a good thing - fail fast, learn and try again.


3. I believe that you always need to be thinking about the customer. Everything you do should be focused on improving the experience for them. In the end we make money by delighting the customer. It isn't about clever tools or functionality to find additional sales or profits but about making customers want to further engage with your brand if that be with a larger wallet share or them becoming a brand evangelist. To do this you need to always be listening and talking to your customer and it can't just be a few people in the organization that are doing this, everyone needs to understand how their roles will impact and improve the customer's interactions.

4. I believe that the internet is the worlds best engagement tool. As mentioned before it is more than sales or a marketing platform. It is a place where you can engage your customers (or prospects) and allow them to choose how and when they want to interact with your brand. As eCommerce, and the internet, continues to play a larger role in the overall success of the business you need to treat your website and its extensions through the Internet as the hub for the business were consumers can access the full breadth and depth of information on your products and / or services.

5. I believe there is a story in everything we do. It isn't just about reports, plans and numbers it is about the core reason why you are doing what you are doing and this needs to be actionable and marketable. Stories are great ways to build a business they can be understood by all - both business and technical and are built around a who, what and why (In the simplest - As X I want to be able to do Y to achieve Z...). Stories are easier to understand and remember than a detailed plan or report and can be repeated with ease. A good story can drive an organization and allow you to move faster than every before.

So these are my top 5 beliefs that I drive everyday. I know and believe that by putting these in place you can transform any organization and quickly deliver success.