My friend Kelly runs at Internet speed. A former college athlete, she clocks a six-minute mile (even with a baby jogger). As for me, I run a recreational 10-minute mile, which leaves me constantly trying to catch up.
Brick-and-mortar retailers face a similar situation chasing at the heels of Internet e-tailing. Only two years ago, traditional retailers were focused on implementing bigger, better enterprise software solutions. "E" was a prefix that most retailers were just beginning to understand.
Bringing Brick-And-Mortar Retailers Up To Internet Speed
In a short time frame, new e-tailing companies quickened the race in the retail industry. Today, most brick-and-mortar retailers have responded and transformed their businesses to offer e-tailing. Some have invested in Olympic-level training to get their Web front end and back end operations up and running quickly. Much of this work can be attributed to the ever-growing pool of e-commerce integrators and outsourcing companies serving the retail industry.
"E" Expands The Technology Envelope
However, the Internet continues to push retailers faster and faster. An attractive Web storefront and streamlined logistics operations aren't enough anymore for today's e-tailers. Online shoppers continue to demand more from e-tailing sites. Here are just a few of the technologies that e-tailers are investing in to stay competitive:
- Customer relationship management (CRM) CRM software is not a new solution. However, leading CRM companies saw the potential for this technology in e-business. New e-CRM software has expanded upon the strengths of traditional CRM and has added e-business functionality. Siebel is the company most commonly identified with CRM. However, traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) companies, such as SAP and Baan, have introduced CRM products now.
- Pocket-sized wireless devices The overwhelming popularity of the Palm Pilot is a small indicator of what's to come. Technology pundits have predicted that sales of wireless small-form devices and appliances will surpass sales of PCs in the near future. Maintaining only a small share of this market right now, Microsoft has turned the heat up on expanding the sales and capabilities of its Windows CE devices. With these small-form devices, e-tailers will need to consider how their Web storefront will appear and present on a smaller screen to customers.
- Mass storage Web sites like Yahoo! are adding new servers and mass storage systems daily to handle their ever-growing transaction and customer data. E-tailers face a similar challenge. IT buyers at e-tailing companies will quickly need to tap into capabilities of storage area networks (SANs) and network attached storage (NAS) to store their vital data.
Other advancements such as portals/trading communities and application/site hosting are changing the e-tailing industry, as well. And, much like me, retailers will be constantly running to catch up.
Questions about this article? E-mail the author at ShannonL@corrypub.com.