The Benefits of Businesses that use the Internet
Almost all national retail organizations today have an Internet site where anyone can place an order. Most are even able to accept credit card payment for instant processing of your order. In fact, there are some companies that accept orders solely from the Internet.
Office Depot has gone one step further than the competition; they have included perks for their contract customers also. Specifically, they have linked the Web-site to their ES9000 mainframe enabling customers to get their own specific contract pricing. The closest any competitors have come is storing a customer s shipping information. The result was $67 Million in sales last year. That doesn t come close to an Internet only retailer like Amazon.com, but it is a phenomenal success for Depot s first year in the Internet market. Increased sales revenue is not the only benefit that this marketing plan has reaped. A new level of efficiency has also been reached.
The leading benefit that has created such efficiency is the number of customer orders that Depot does not have to:
1. Take up more of a salesperson s time on the phone.
2. Take up an order-entry clerk.
3. Waste time trying to understand precisely what the customer needs. (The customer can browse though our entire catalog of merchandise)
Instead, the company s time can be spent on more important customer service issues. A salesperson can get out in the field to meet one-on-one with their customers. Order-entry clerks can spend more time making sure they key exactly what the customer wants. That covers the benefits to the company, but how about the customer. Are they benefiting as well?
Customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. This is mainly true because Internet ordering is an additional service, not a replacement of service. Some customers in the past would complain that they couldn t speak to a Real Person when they needed to most. Now when they need to place an order, there is no need to speak to someone unless more clarification is required, and when it is, there are more Real People available to speak with.
Though some people think that the Email account that their company supplies them is private and confidential, it is actually neither. Most companies explain their Email policy in great detail, but one would have to look for it in their Employee Manual on their own. One of the main reasons why companies do this is to protect themselves legally. Since the company owns the account, the government holds them accountable for its use. For instance, if an employee were to use their company supplied Email account to send a bomb threat to the White House, the Secret Service would contact the company first. The company would then be forced to forfeit all and any messages that the government requests. If the government finds anything incriminating previous to the bomb threat message, the company could then face charges of their own. Now with that in mind, you d better believe that every company that supplies email addresses to its employees is also reading their messages periodically.
Senn, J.A. Information Technology in Business; Principles, Practices, and Opportunities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1998