When I was a kid, I used to love to listen to my father talk about politics. He was opinionated and unfalteringly convinced that his point of view was not only right, but shared by “all” Americans (at least the smart ones). Today, I don’t always agree with my dad’s political views (and I’m pretty smart), but there’s something I remember him saying during an election that I very much agree with, and have found to apply in many areas of my life, especially e-commerce: “Issues change.”
During the heat of an election long before I was old enough to vote, my father was frustrated by the fact that a single issue was swaying the voters to choose one candidate over another. “Hell,” he said, slapping his newspaper down like a flyswatter, “this guy is going to be in office for at least four years, maybe eight, and we’re acting like there’s only one problem that matters. This issue will hardly be on the radar 6 months from now and we’ll wake up and realize we’ve got the wrong guy!”
The bigger point, of course is that that hot issues come and go. When you make an important decision about someone, you need to take the long view and ask “is this the kind of person who I feel confident about, who has the kind of character, experience and perspective necessary to do a good job beyond the immediate issues at hand?” The issues are a factor of course, but voting on those alone is short sighted.
So, what does this have to do with e-commerce? Plenty, especially if you’re thinking about a platform search. Recently, in the middle of a very complex e-commerce solution search, a client and I were evaluating the options. I asked the team for feedback on what they’d seen so far. One team member immediately said, “I am not sure about company ABC. I liked them, but the platform didn’t offer a couple of features out of the box like company XYZ’s did.” So I asked:
Which company had done the most research on your business? Answer: company ABC
Which company asked you the most questions during the call? Answer: company ABC
Which of the two companies would you prefer to do business with if the features were the same? Answer: company ABC
Which company would you choose? Certainly there are so many other things to consider. Track record, price, speed to market, installed client base, the list goes on. But, at the end of the day, it can be easy to get side tracked by a slick e-commerce feature, just like it can be easy to let the issue of the moment be the focus of your political decisions.
There will be another e-commerce feature that you want next month, and several more the year after that. And, not all of them will be necessary or even appropriate for your business. Unless you have a large and highly competent IT team in house (in which case you probably really do want just e-commerce software), you are choosing an e-commerce solution provider who will be your partner in building a successful business, and the decision will likely be one you live with for many years. Don’t let the feature of the moment become the focus of your decision. Features change. Just like issues change. Thanks, Dad.