In business we’re used to calculating our costs, adding an appropriate margin, thus determining the final price to the customer. I understand why we would carry this logic into the world of print ecommerce. You paid for the software solution, the solution is clearly providing value to your customer, why wouldn’t you charge for it?
If you’ve been reading my blog or the articles I’ve written for WhatTheyThink, I bet you can guess what I’m going to say about charging customers to transact with you online. Charge them for the privilege of submitting work in a self service fashion? Please don’t.
I don’t mean you can’t charge them for consultative services rendered around the solution, but charging customers for doing business with you in a self service fashion is not a good strategy. It sounds silly when you word it like that, doesn’t it? Yes, that’s what ecommerce is – its self service (meaning the customer is interacting with your business without you applying direct labor resources). Logic might tell us that a customer discount should be in order for their efforts?
You want to create an environment that encourages your transition from an offline to online business as quickly as possible. One of the most important metrics every printer should be tracking is what portion of their business is coming from their ecommerce platform?
I suggest not only tracking the % but publishing the monthly breakdown to your entire company with quarterly goals tied to performance appraisals. Everyone in your company needs to line up behind your transformation from an offline business to a primarily online business.