RealTime IT News

Most B2Cs Have No "Head of E-Commerce," Say U.K. Researchers

[London, ENGLAND] Fewer than a third of B2C companies in the U.K. have appointed a "head of e-commerce," according to a new survey from consultancy Knowledge Accelerators.

The researchers report that the only industry sector with a reasonably high density of e-commerce supremos -- at 42 percent -- is banking and finance. They go on to say that this sector, too, boasts the most sophisticated and functional Web sites.

Mike Adams, chief operating officer of Knowledge Accelerators, said it is clear that too few companies recognize the importance of communicating brand values at every customer touchpoint. Only banking and finance offers a "best practice example" of e-commerce commitment, he said.

"Since very little actual purchasing is conducted online in this industry, this highlights the fact that a Web site's main function should not be transactional, but rather customer service focused," said Adams.

He added that the emphasis for the "second wave" of online business is on using the Web to enhance an offline brand. The techniques range from simply offering the consumer another channel of communication, right through to actually strengthening brand values -- as demonstrated in The Body Shop's "interactivism" section.

"Communicating brand values, especially for global brands which, apart from above the line advertising, have no direct contact with the consumer, is where the true power of a Web site lies," said Adams.

The survey from Knowledge Accelerators also contains a measurement of the e-commerce functionality of each company's B2C Web site. Once again, banking and finance came out on top with an index score of 147. Lagging behind at the lower end were the retail industry's Web sites, scoring an average of 93, followed by those of the utility companies with 79.

Scoring more highly were the telecoms and high-tech industries, with 123 and 101 respectively -- the second and third highest scores. However, they achieved this result with a relatively low percentage of heads of e-commerce, say the researchers.

Knowledge Accelerators, which claims to help companies by turning existing data into business knowledge, is not unduly distressed by the figures. The front page of its own Web site insists: "Let's be clear about one thing -- Internet business is not about to fall lemming-like over the edge of the cliff..."

No one mentioned whether Dotcom Graveyard is located at the top or the bottom of the cliff, however.