Business Proposal: Computers and the Internet E-Commerce Proposal

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Computers and the Internet

Internet e-Commerce Proposal

The intent of this e-commerce proposal for PZE Puzzles is to first compare the e-commerce strategies of their three dominant competitors in the U.K. including Accolade Publishing, Clarity Media, and Puzzler. A competitive analysis of their three most competitive processes as they relate to their e-commerce strategies online are analyzed, followed by a proposal to PZE Puzzles specifically for how they would adopt each of the processes observed on their competitor's websites. A proposal is also provided for a new web presence including technical infrastructure, costing and design. This proposal ends with a marketing and promotion strategy specifically focused on how to promote the proposed e-commerce website for PZE Puzzles.

Comparative Analysis of Competitors

The three most dominant competitors to PZE Puzzles are Accolade Publishing, Clarity Media and Puzzler. Each of these competitors takes a significantly different approach to managing their e-commerce strategies online. All of them however implement order capture, order status and online catalogs as part of their e-commerce strategies. The combining of order status and order management has shown to significantly increase order accuracy and lead to higher level of customer satisfaction online (Barsauskas, Sarapovas, Cvilikas, 2008, 88, 89). Order status as a process can be multi-channel in nature, initiating queries both to telemarketing representatives who respond to auto-generated e-mails from customers' requests to the completely automated systems that can query a given order and provide its status in the supply chain and in fulfillment (Seng, Lin. 2007, 421, 422). Order status regardless of the relatively simplicity or complexity of its process and system-based support, delivers significant cost reductions in services within the first twelve months of implementation (Soltani, Gharbi, 2008, et.al.).

Accolade Publishing has the most advanced Web-based application for order status, as they seek to provide their distribution and publishing partners with the status of their orders in real-time. It is a reasonable assumption that Accolade Publishing has an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system in place coordinating the many different channels that order status is available from this competitor. As Accolade has a pervasive multi-channel selling strategy as is evident from their website, it is clear that their order management system is also capable of multi-point distribution. This is an enterprise-wide application that acts as a coordination point throughout the entire enterprise of this competitor; there is evidence of this in the many order change screens on their site and the ability to see orders across their many publications. Having this level of visibility throughout all publications is evidence of how pervasive their distributed order management system is. One of the most complex processes in any organization is the area of distributed order management, as it requires synchronization across all areas of the company. In the case of Accolade, their distributed order management process is the most complex and sophisticated of the three competitors in this analysis. The final of the three processes included in this analysis, catalog management and the continual stream of new puzzles, Suduko, and other related materials form the foundation of each competitors' and PZE Puzzle's business model. The use of enterprise-wide content management on the Accolade e-commerce site is evident from their multi-channel publishing strategy across both magazines and websites. The role of enterprise content management systems in the role of personalizing content for distribution and publishing partners, in addition to tailoring the B2C-based websites to reflect the specific preferences of consumers is considered one of the key determinants of creating trust in websites over the long-term (Ofuonye, Beatty, Reay, Dick, Miller, 2008, 7, 8).

The ability to match specific content to the interests, needs, and preferences of customers, regardless of distribution channel, is critical for gaining loyalty and trust over the long-term (Kwon, Kim, Kim, Kwak, 2008, 380). The catalog management process in this competitor shows that they have developed a series of internal processes that quickly deliver new content to their dozens of publications, and then quickly promote the new content to distribution partners, consumers and the industry media. As with the more complex process of distributed order management, catalog management on this website shows a tight integration with the more pervasive processes in the company.

To the extent these more complex processes are integrated to the broader, transactional oriented processes in the company is the extent to which the e-commerce strategies will be seen as competitive, responsive, and best-in-class (Misra, Rao, 2009, 50).

The second competitor, Clarity Media, is more focused on the reseller and distribution markets for content and as a result has a more B2B-oriented e-commerce strategy and website. This competitor's value proposition specifically focuses on selling to other content providers, including magazine, newsletter and newspaper publishers. Their reliance on order status as a Web-based e-commerce application centers on manual processes that have only been automated to a limited extent. This competitors' use of order capture also indicates that there is less of a level of process and inter-system integration throughout the company in general. Order status is single-channel only which is a detriment to delivering exceptional service to customers. The lack of integration evident in the order status process area also suggests that customer service is not electronically automated and integrated to the e-commerce applications as well. The next process area of distributed order management shows that Clarity Media relies on a bulk-based order management as it sells primarily to content providers and content distributors. Their distributed order management function on their website is exemplified by their use of tools for propagating their content o key customers. There is however not a cross-over of their distributed order management systems to their B2C-based demand generation strategies, and this is a major competitive weakness. Third, the implementations of systems to support their enterprise content management systems is uni-dimensional and also reflect the lack of broader systems and process integration throughout their organization. The enterprise content management process as illustrated by this competitor's approach to managing puzzles, Suduko, and other materials also shows that the website and e-commerce strategies are isolated within the company and lack integration. With the primary value proposition of Clarity Media centered on being a provider of content for newsletters, newspapers, and publishers it is understandable why their e-commerce strategies appear to be so isolated as processes relative to the remainder of the company. Strategically speaking this is one of the greatest weaknesses Clarity Media has, as it means that each of the process areas identified must be manually integrated - in other words through e-mail or paper workflows - between the e-commerce applications and the remainder of the company. This translates into significant time lost and more errors over time. For any e-commerce strategy to be effective there must be a high level of accuracy, interprocess and intersystem collaboration across all applications and all channels for these strategies to succeed (Legner, 2008, 58, 59, 60-65). Clarity Media is at a distinct competitive disadvantage as a result.

The third competitor analyzed is Puzzler, the most B2C-focused of the three competitors PZE Puzzles has. Like Accolade, Puzzler relies on a multichannel distribution strategy and also shows intensive integration between its web-based e-commerce applications and its more enterprise-wide systems and processes. Beginning with order status, the company has support for both consumers and distribution channel partners to use the order status application online. This order status process is both automated and manual as there is the option of sending an e-mail as well. The order status application also supports the ability to track individualized online orders as well. The second process area of competitive analysis, distributed order management also shows significant multi-channel focus as well. The major difference however of this competitor relative to the others is their investing in and continually improving their direct channel. As a result of this strategic direction, Puzzler also relies on their own recommendation systems to further increase customer trial and use rates, in addition to building credibility with their own distribution channels. The use of recommender systems to create credibility and trust is seen as a critical factor in the development of effective e-commerce strategies (Zanker, Jessenitschnig, 2009, et.al.). The third process area of enterprise content management systems, specifically online catalogs, shows that this competitor's reliance on their own direct channels is the design criteria for this process. The online catalogs as shown on their website also show a tight level of integration with internal company processes, including the publishing and distribution. The process workflow is shorter and by far more efficient fro this competitor relative to others specifically in this process area. Puzzler, due to their reliance on a direct selling model, has successfully created a more efficient enterprise content management and catalog management system, and as a result has more timely distribution of content than the competitors profiled in this analysis.

In conclusion it is apparent that the relative level of effectiveness of each of these three process areas in the three competitors profiled is directly influenced by the extent of process and system integration throughout the broader organization.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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