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Websites and Efficiency: The E-Commerce website

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Five years ago the big thing was, does our company have a website? Now a days almost every company has a website and if your one without a website, it is hurting your business more then ever before. It is hurting your companies overall efficiency. But how important is efficiency?
Way back before the start of the industrial revolution, things were being completed purely by hand and there were no robots or machines that completed most of the work. The output, back then, was determined by the amount of inputs, or the employees. Digging a big hole back then was done by shovel, fast forward to 2000 when digging a big hole is done by a backhoe which has greatly improved the efficiency of the construction industry. Outputs are now being determined by both the capital invested as well as the employees whom work for the company.
Another example in the difference in how things run more efficiently is the difference 70 years have made since World War II. For instance, in World War II we were still making bullets by hand. Now we have industrial machines that pump the bullets out non-stop and this has greatly improved the efficiency of the human race over the past 70 years.
In the past twenty years, we have gone from using pen & paper for writing letters, reports, school and etc. It is now 2008, and that has changed. Beside the odd exception, most work is done via computers. In the past ten years, things have greatly improved even for those using computers. We now have programs where you simply input the data and the computer simply looks at the data and exports a report for you. No need for the typing of that report, or figuring out the calculations. It’s all done within fractions of a second.
As things continue to change at a increase pace, the major challenge within the new generations coming out of high school and university is to continue to be more and more efficient.
One spot that a lot of companies overlook increasing their efficiency is on their website. Five to ten years ago, the main thing was that you had a website and people could find you on the web to find out the necessary information about your company. The website then was a lot different then it is now, it had to contain basic information about your company at a minimum, with basic information on your products.
With almost everyone having a credit card these days, it allows for instant processing of payments for purchases of items online which is especially more convenient for those impulse buyers.
That being said, there are a lot of companies out there who do not feel an e-commerce website is worth it to them. A company I was visiting the other day does everything by paper. All phone orders are filled out with a pen and piece of paper, even though everything else is done via computer. The company in question fills out at least a thousand papers/orders per month. The orders are then filed into a filing cabinet and stored away.
The company in question has a large majority of repeat customers and every year a lot of the same customers order the same products and quite a few simply just request the same order as last year and the company representative has to go to the filing cabinet and lookup the information that was filed from the previous year. They then go back to the phone to complete the order. The whole process can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes per order which limits the company to four to six calls per hour. The company in question is also concerned that they are loosing customers because of the long wait and the minimal staff they have on to handle the orders.  At ten minutes per call, that equals out to be 10,000 minutes per month or 167 hours a month of spending time filing out paper and completing the transaction with the customer.
If a small 10% of orders were placed via a e-commerce website, that would save almost 17 hours as the orders will be completed and all the work (filling out the mailing address, entering credit card information, etc) will be completed by the customer which would free up staff to assist in processing. The e-commerce website would also cut the amount of filling out of paper work in half to 83 hours a month or the equivalent of 2 weeks work.
This does not include the amount of time it would assist the company with processing the orders and would cut down on the amount of manual paperwork a company needs to fill out.
The good news, the company today decided its time to modernize their processes to make things run more efficiently. Tomorrow, they’ll be sitting laughing realizing how much less work they need to spend on processing an order from start to finish. But for now, they’re just excited their getting a new website.

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