Ecommerce Expertise Blog
Welcome to the Ecommerce Expertise Blog.
My professional focus is on helping companies improve their eCommerce presence and sales results. I have expertise in the technical aspects of eCommerce implementation, site optimization to improve conversion, and the application of 20+ years of marketing experience to new social media tools and processes. That said there are plenty of blogs and articles that talk about how to do this. From time to time, I’ll post links to articles or write about tips to improve your site. But I’d rather use this blog to discuss the more esoteric applications of life and business experience to improving web presence and results. So here we go!
Steps to an Ecology of Ecommerce (with apologies to Gregory Bateson)
Throughout my career, I have been struck by the challenge how to embody proven experience to innovate into the future. One of the most enlightening books I ever read during my teen-twenty self discovery years was Gregory Bateson’s Steps to an Ecology of the Mind. It was there that I first internalized the concept of embracing entropy, or evolving disorder and change, as the way of the world. Bateson argues that probability favors disorder. To me, success in business (and life for that matter) is the ability to find patterns to build on the growing disorder and complexity, view every change as an opportunity, and thrive on the edge of innovation.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t survive if you ignore the entropy and the exploding connections that surround you. Here’s a simple analogy. Think about operating a car (and I am careful to use the word “operating” rather than “driving”). At its most basic, operating a car today is the same as it was driving a Model T Ford. You push the gas to go, the brake to stop, and use the steering wheel to direct where you want to go. I drive a Mini Cooper S. The Mini is a retro design based on the original British Car first developed in 1959. In its original incarnation, the Cooper was a British response to the Volkswagen, a basic box with minimal features, and one simple gauge in the middle of the dash to tell you how fast you are going. Today’s Mini looks similar, and someone who drove a 1959 Cooper would have no problems acclimating to the new car. BUT…think about what’s in this new car:
That one gauge in the middle now has a speedometer, gas gauge, indicators for the traction control, maintenance indicators, a thermometer, a readout of my fuel economy, and little lights to warn me that I haven’t paid attention to the gauge that tells me I’m out of gas. It’s surrounded by buttons for the electric doors, electric windows, automatic air conditioning, 3 airbags (which we never want to use), even an “openometer” to tell me how long the convertible has been open. So what’s the point? I can drive without any of these features, but to fully operate the car and maximize the experience, I need to manage all of these instruments and features. Only then can I gain full utilization of the machine. Someone who drove a Cooper in 1959 would absolutely feel at home in the new car, with its familiar features. But in many ways, that familiarity would blind him to the marvels of the new technology, and prevent him from recognizing the capabilities of the newer tools. They would only realize half of the experience.
So how does this relate to eCommerce business? As the operator of a store, all you really need are the basics that merchants have had forever: merchandise to sell, a way to take money, and a way to deliver the goods. Eventually, with the assistance of big brother Google, you will be found, and you will probably sell something. But how do you truly optimize your efforts? You need to become aware of all the instruments and tools which surround you, and how to use them. You need to learn both the internal widgits, such as comparison features, add-ons etc., but also all of the tools that can extend your reach into the internet. You need to grow beyond the familiar, and embrace the entropy of all the new tools that your competitors are using to be found! But you also need to take a holistic approach, and build on your own skills. The ultimate winner is the merchant who can leverage the “best practices” of the new social media tools and eCommerce techniques to build on what their years of experience has taught them in their gut. To do this successfully often requires some coaching, passionate debates on what might work, but ultimately taking calculated risks based on the expertise that you surround yourself with. Often, you need a guide or coach to help you see what’s new around you. Don’t be afraid of what they can show you. Only by embracing these new capabilities, but still keeping your hand on the wheel, can you hope to explore new ways to grow your business, and become the best in your field.