Different kind of e-business applications
Many think just about a webshop, and about selling and buying. But there are many more sorts of e-business applications.
We will discuss below more in detail:
- (reverse) e-auction
- virtual community
- information broker
- value chain integration
This can be a "classic" webshop. Cool Blue is an excellent example of this for the Netherlands and Belgium. They set up a webshop (different url) for each product category they have.
e.g.: Speakerdockshop.be,; voicerecordershop.be; BBQcenter.be; rugzakcenter.be; etc....
CoolBlue is often refered to as a “best practice” example, thanks to its focus on customer service.
To excel in customer service, they do things such as:
- Free shipment, but also free for the return shipment
- Product video’s for most products
- A quality service desk open till 23:59 hours !
- 2 Mortar & Brick showrooms for who wants to “touch” the equipment
- A Brick service center if you need to see a technician
- Next day delivery for free if ordered before 23:59 hours
- 7 day delivery
- But, because of next day delivery, they “disable” the BUY function for products not in stock. You can only click a button to get notification when the item is back in stock. And then you decide to buy for next day delivery.
But it can also definitely be NOT a webshop, but still about promoting sales... Have a look at the corporate website of Kraft foods: One might decide NOT to go for a webshop to stimulate selling. This site of multinational “Kraft Foods” is, on purpose, not a webshop. The site is not focusing on products, but is all about adding value to the customer relationship. It’s subtle, but it works on stimulating sales through the other distribution channels Kraft has.
A larger company might set up a "procurement" webshop where they procure or announce the intention wanting to procure goods they need within their company or for their production proces. Often, this is combined with a reverse auction (see below) in order to get the best price, or, alternatively the procurer might just announce the price level at which they are willing to "buy".
- Auction: prices go up while potential buyes bid against each other. eBay is the typical example
- Reverse auction: Organized by the buyer, using prices going down. The procurement department of a multinational often uses this technique
In a B2B or B2G context you should, in a procuring role, consider reverse auctions as a method to buy cheaper your raw materials, your services, your components. Marketdojo is an example of a provider offering this capability to your procurement department.
- Marketplace (supply and demand)
A nice example of an e-marketplace is Bobex. Bobex is first of all an B2B (business-to-business) website. A business is for example looking for IT professionals to work on a CRM project.But Bobex does address also partially the consumer market (B2C, business-to-consumer),
Example is a consumer requesting price offers for renovating a house.
- e.g. virtual community of professional groups
- e.g.: Document and project management involving customer & supplier(s). An example would be setting up a Sharepoint structure for a given project, accessible by customer and supplier so both can look at project documentation and progress.
Active collab is an example of a project management and collaboration solution not only enabling the collaboration within a team, but also the interaction with the customer you are doing the project for and your subcontractors providing services to you.
- Researches information for customers. E.g. market research and patent searches
value chain integration
- Process and process chain integration. Examples in the car industry are common (strongly tied ICT integration between supplier and car manufacturer)
The volvo case we discussed in previous chapter was a nice example.
- Mobile e-commerce. E.g.: Mobile payment systems. Mobile parcel sign-off. Mobile code scanning and registration. Mobile service ordering: e.g. Uber taxi service
Korea, Tesco’s: Look at those people waiting for their metro train. Tesco’s has printed wall displays placed in the metro. Scan with their app the QR code and place your order. Indicate where and when you will leave a given metro station: you can collect your bag with goodies...
(picture source: https://www.designboom.com/technology/tesco-virtual-supermarket-in-a-subway-station/)
Internet components within e-business
The "simplest" form of e-business is to present stuff such as products. The most advanced level you can achieve is to truly transform your business by revamping the processes and ways of working to highly automated and efficient ones.
Internet components within e-business
- The added value of “Transformation” is the highest: You are really changing here the way the business operates internally and in interaction with its environment using internet technology.
- Transformation implies really transforming business processes. You want to increase efficiency and lower the costs. You could for example shift labor to lower cost locations (e.g. Eastern Europe) by using internet technology as enabler to make remote operation of business processes possible. Another trick is shifting administrative work away from you to the other party. E.g.: don’t input the order yourself, but give the customer the tools to let him input the order. This will save you 5-30 minutes labor cost ! If you are using suppliers in a B2B model, it’s very interesting to let the suppliers do all the administrative work by giving them some access to your erp system. Smart ICT can just eliminate jobs, and make it faster and cheaper for your business to operate and be competitive.
- Transaction is the pure order entry. Remark that this one comes on second place. Yes, this helps a lot, but with “out of the box thinking” related to transformation you can achieve more.
- Communication and information are great candidates for automation. For instance, automated messaging about the parcel leaving the warehouse, being scheduled for hand-out, etc... Communication using chat and e-mail are way faster then surface mail and cheaper then telephony. Try to use as much as possible structured communication: e.g. if your force the customer to fill in a form, you will be more assured to have all the data you need in one go. Not having to revisit the communication with the customer is a cost and time saver.
- Presentation are all techniques related to presenting the business, its services and products. Make use of new media here (social media, twitter, YouTube,...) at the right moment.
E-business applications will give you a number of advantages if designed and implemented the right way:
- Competitive advantage: Strengthen your competitive position
- Customer bonding: Improve customer satisfaction and bonding
- Customer relationship mgmt.: Increase number of customers and turn-over/customer
- Operational excellence: Cut operational costs while improving quality
- Product leadership: Innovate more!
- Strategic sourcing: Purchase more intelligently