I was very interested in Tom O’Sullivan’s “Christmas E-ve” article (MW November 11), which spoke about the anticipated explosion in online Christmas shopping and raised concerns over e-retailers’ ability to meet consumer demand. While this must be a valid concern for all e-traders, surely it relates to the entire year, and not just peak seasonal demands?
Sullivan quotes Richard Hyman, of Verdict Research: “The key to online shopping is fulfilment.” I would take this a stage further and suggest the key to any online offer is ensuring the availability of the systems that made it possible in the first place. If a company cannot structure and maintain critical Web systems to take full advantage of the Internet’s commercial opportunities, then it has a problem.
Today’s Websites are no longer glorified billboards or brochures (though some companies may limit their use to this level). As the article emphasised, for the serious e-trader Websites are their sole means of doing business. Visibility, reputation, brand value and opportunities are all dramatically increased by the Net.
Logically speaking, failures are also maximised. Net broker eBay saw its market value drop $5bn (£3.09bn) or 25 per cent following a 21-hour outage caused by a server upgrade that went wrong. It is easy to see how a modest investment enabling entry into the e-commerce market can cost the entire business when things go awry.
Online continuity is about ensuring continuous availability of organisations’ Net-related activities. Serious e-traders are writing e-continuity into their corporate strategies as an integral part of protecting brand values and delivering customer expectations. In this highly competitive market, e-continuity could be the best Christmas present the online retailer gives itself.