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In Search of the “Perfect” E-Commerce Solution for Your Direct Selling Company

Searching for the perfect e-commerce solution can be like searching for the big-foot monster, you have heard from others that it exists or maybe you have actually thought you have seen it, but in the end, it cannot be found. It’s not that thousands of businesses haven’t tried to find it and hundreds of software companies haven’t attempted to deliver the perfect solution however, in the end it simply doesn’t exist.

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Many of you just attended this year’s Direct Selling Association Annual Convention in Phoenix. There you would have seen a dozen or more software companies exhibiting their latest and greatest technology. It is certain that thousands of hours have been invested to produce the perfect system and great intentions have led the way, but in the end, the ability to produce the perfect system has fallen short again. Make no mistake, their efforts should be applauded, but reality indicates, perfect systems have not been invented.

Perfection is Not the Point

Understanding a perfect system does not exist, you should focus your search on an entity that will meet the majority of your business needs and do it ‘out-of-the box,’ and then determine the cash infusion you want to pay to customize the remainder. The search for software should not be classified as a minor decision, and the selection process of software is much different than the implementation part, and it should be kept that way. Sometimes, software providers will also provide consulting services to help you determine your company’s technology roadmap. Obviously, these providers can’t help but be biased toward their own solution, in both knowledge and preference. If you seek out help outside of your employees to help with this process, I strongly suggest you use someone who is not connected to any specific platform directly so they can offer you true third-party advice.

Business leaders should always ensure they have the right resources assigned to the project of researching software, performing due diligence and determine the correct solution to meet their requirements. The evaluation process is where many business leaders often stumble or even fail.

My colleagues and I work with many direct selling companies, both start-up and mature internationally known name brands in the direct sales industry. One common trend has been found: business leaders more often focus on managing business units such as product development, finance and accounting, operations, sales and field management, and consider technology a support role. It is understandable because leaders gravitate to areas they feel comfortable in and leave the uncomfortable areas to others. This can result in technology organizations being overlooked from a capital resource perspective.

By ensuring technology organizations have the necessary resources to provide a stable environment, if and when disruption occurs, the technology team can be better prepared to act. If the technology organization lacks sufficient resources, it often places leaders in a reactive mode versus being proactive and causes assigned personnel to scramble to restore stability, assuming restoration is possible.

If the only way a business can restore stability is by replacing the software, they are repeatedly forced to frantically seek out a replacement and drastically shorten the implementation phase in order to get business operations functioning again. This is where mistakes develop and generate additional expense and downtime in ways that were never anticipated. The scramble phase referred to as ”trying to build an airplane while flying it at the same time” does not work.

Think Holistically About Your Software Solution

In this series titled IN SEARCH OF THE “PERFECT” E-COMMERCE SOLUTION, we will provide insight into …

  • The what, why and when’s of software selection.
  • First steps to take as a business leader before initiating a search for the right solution.
  • How to conduct and complete due diligence ensuring selection of the best solution for your business.
  • Navigating the contract process.
  • How to navigate the implementation process.
  • Managing the provider relationship post-launch.

The process of software selection can be very intimidating and frustrating. The intent of this series is to provide a basic understanding of the steps necessary establishing the path to a successful selection and implementation.

In fact, I recently spoke to some of these points in a webinar with my SCP colleagues Brett Duncan and Chris Clark. You can watch the replay of that webinar here.

Doing Your Homework When Choosing New Software

The first segment of this series will be on “DOING YOUR HOMEWORK.”

As organizations begin the software selection process, a struggle typically ensues. You want to properly and adequately define both the business “needs” as well as the functional requirements. Frequently, there is a gap and even misalingment between the business needs and the technical needs. Please note the use of the word “need” and the word “want”. As we cover the upcoming topics, understanding the difference between those two words will be impactful.

As we embark together on this journey to understand the process of software selection and finding the so called perfect solution, you will be given the opportunity to ask questions and contact Strategic Choice Partners for more assistance in understanding what may work best for you and your organization. This series is not intended to recommend any one software company or solution over another, or provide you a detailed project plan. It is to better equip the business leader on what to look for and to improve the communication between the business and the software provider. In the end, software providers take great pride in delivering functional solutions that make business successful. It takes both sides to ensure this achievement.

Keep an eye out for the first segment in this series.

 

By Doug Finnie, Strategic Choice Partners.

 

 


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