E-Commerce Grows Up

After boom and bust, the emphasis now is on back-office integration, usability, ROI and building trust.

Give the folks at Master Lock Co. some credit. While other companies ran around with their hair on fire in the late 1990s - pouring millions of dollars into dot-com spin-offs - Master Lock ignored the hype. First, it got its house in order by fixing its supply chain system. And now it's finally ready to delve into e-commerce - at a slow, methodical pace. Executives were determined to do it right the first time. What a concept.

Milwaukee-based Master Lock and other slowpokes have the advantage of learning from the mistakes of the hair-on-fire crowd and of working with more mature (and cheaper) software.

Obviously, not every company can take this late-to-market approach. Some fast-moving industries really had to be early adopters of online commerce. But each business takes a different approach. Ikea International, the Denmark-based home-furnishings retailer, still doesn't take orders at Ikea.com because the ROI just isn't there .

E-commerce isn't glamorous or new or unique anymore - and that's good. Now the focus is on basic business principles such as back-office integration (so you can tell the customer what's really in stock) and ROI and building trust. It's just plain commerce - another channel to reach customers, dealers and suppliers.

Someday we'll be able to ditch jargon like B2C, e-CRM and B2B because those terms will blend together as e-business, a word covering all the electronic methods of doing business. And then the e will fall off, too. After all, we don't say phone-business or handshake-business or store-business. It's just business, all of it made possible or enhanced by technology.

Mitch Betts (mitch_betts@computerworld.com) is director of Computerworld's Knowledge Centers.

Special Report

E-Commerce Grows Up

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