The Foci is the Customer
e-Commerce is a great way of building relationship with customers. Responsiveness of a company increases greatly as a result of e-Commerce. The company can react very promptly to customer requests, feedbacks, complaints and inputs. “Maybe the biggest advantage of e-commerce is its one-to-one marketing” (Wehling, 1996). There must be complete synergy between technology and processes in order to maximize the benefits from any e-Commerce initiative.
ICT applications and e-Commerce processes must not only run in tandem, but also take into active consideration the readiness of customers on one hand and suppliers on the other, so that these three basic elements of e-Commerce – the business, the customer and the supplier – are in complete sync with each other. The customer is the center of attraction in e-Commerce as in any conventional business.
Customer-related processes have to be evaluated in the context of the e-Commerce framework for e-Commerce to result in improvement in customer service and relationship. Providing customers with online access is neither sufficient nor adequate unless customers are in a position to communicate their requirements online and preferably through a single-point contact. When a single-point contact is no provided, the customer is left stumbling about in the cyber darkness looking for the appropriate channel through which to make requests for services or products.
As soon the firm receives online customer requirements, ICT applications should be in place to ensure that the response prompted is factual and relevant and there is no lack of co-ordination in the customer support system. Relevant ICT tools should be used to disseminate customer feedback into organizational processes as soon as they are received. Unless this is done customer inputs could end up at the wrong place or at the right place after long delays. Large lag time between feedback and resultant changes takes the edge of the technology advantage of e-Business.
Application of ICT tools in any e-Commerce endeavor should be oriented both inward and outward. “In addition to enabling seamless information sharing within the organization, e-business systems must be geared toward its external operations. Customer facing systems should have both informational and transactional capabilities” (Barua, et. al. 2001). The potential of e-Commerce to enhance interactivity with customers should be harnessed to the maximum extent possible.
Personalization of customer interactions through the provision of personalized product information, and detailed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), for example, makes it possible to offer online customized packages to the customer. ICT applications in e-Commerce facilitates easier access for customers and enable them to submit, modify and track orders online as well as to pay for them online and receive automated online order status on a regular basis. The level of customization capabilities is an indicator of the online interactivity of any e-Commerce initiative.