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E-Commerce Branding: The Corporate Challenge of 2006

Imagine, one morning you see all the roads and highways and ask for the reason of their existence while being totally unaware about the invention of a car. Holding just a wheel in your hand, you wonder on some vague possibilities of using the million miles of roads and super highways. That’s exactly where we are on the information highway. So far there are flashy websites with a few twisted email addresses. This is just like having a wheel in your hand and being totally oblivious to the finer workings of an automobile, never mind a tractor or a forty-foot trailer or a bullet train.

Corporations are in need of quick and serious shock therapy so as to graduate from the earlier joys and excitements of owning a few flashy websites. This early exuberance fueled the false notion of being ‘the master players of global e-commerce’ amongst the members in the corporate boardrooms. Let’s face it; most organizations very gracefully eluded this false misconception throughout the hierarchy all based on few web pages linking to the net. The magnitude of e-commerce is so huge and vast and it demands a deeper understanding on how to capitalize on this freely available trillion-dollar public infrastructure.

Here is the reality check.

In a recent study by ABC Namebank on the issues of cyber-branding, some 10,000 websites of the top businesses around world were analyzed and each was measured on it distinct personality, visibility and its value to the end-user. The study was divided into two parts, the Timeline of initial adoptability and the Bottom-line of returns and profitability. The results were very alarming and here are the key points for the corporate world.

Timeline Issues

The adoptability phase, resulting in a quick creation of owning a moderate website scored very high, while the efforts to strive for readership were significant

and most remaining on a struggling course via online banner advertising to ensure minimum hits. The poor corporate image on e-commerce is now becoming a major challenge of corporate communications.

Bottom-line issues

The knowledge base to understand the precise nature and the rules of profitability by sophisticated application of e-commerce models was extremely poor. Thousands were chasing the same few overly repeated models and falling flat, as on e-commerce, only the best and only the top name in a category survive. In this race for the top, the screens are very small and only the first few choices have a chance, while the other millions sink to the bottom.

Surprisingly, for some of the big operations, the sites were lost in the fathom. It’s down the hill for all such e-commerce players, straight-lined by the thousands in a queue anxiously waiting to get attention.

Following were the top two reasons of most e-commerce failures.

Lack of a Selling Proposition:

There are millions of such sites selling millions of basic products and services. So what? Commoditization will certainly kill the business, as only by sheer accident, would some sales be made. Selling screwdrivers is one thing to compete but to offer advance assembly ideas with a screwdriver, as one of the essential tools is a better selling proposition. ‘Cheap’ is losing its power as now ‘Free’ is in. The global competition is so fierce and the labor cost disparity is so wide that most bargains are no longer working. as there is always some other supplier to offer it for far less, or even for free. Most corporations are still stuck in the old print-society mentality and see their selling proposition somewhere in the middle of an old fashioned glossy brochure. The traditional advertising and promotional model with graphic overdose are often replaced on the ecommerce with animation overload. This approach shifts all the intelligence from the actual proposition to little or useless information leaving the sharp deal hunters without any motivation to act or to come back for a revisit.

Total Oblivion:

Any website, portal or any ecommerce strategy is simply doomed from the start without a Five Star Standard of Naming. 99% of the sites are unsearchable. This means that unless a potential customer remembers all the twisted spellings and all the added differentiators of a URL including dashes and slashes plus is equally aware whether it’s dotcom or dot net suffix, the access to the e-commerce model in impossible. When a site is in this, oblivion it’s doomed and the e-commerce gameplan is lost. Period. With millions of sites being added all the time around the world, there is much to be said about the simple, unique, one of a kind globally protected name identities. This demands the application of a Five Star Standard.

Recommendations:

Formulate a management task force to review this as a critical boardroom level issue. Bring the open-mined IT teams closer to marketing. Seriously explore the selling proposition and image positioning strategy and see how it’s the current URL’s name identity and its related difficulties on the search engines. Professionally audit the liabilities of your URLs and have them analyzed using some proper standards. Nothing less then an open debate in search of a perfect solution will work. Welcome to 2006.

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