A global educational resource for e-business and Internet marketing strategies
e-Business North American Tour
The Foundation Phase
e-Business World Tours
Phase 5: The Strategic Transformation Phase
29. The Global Stage
The Global Stage involves the creation and execution of a strategy that can truly meet the needs of the global community. Here are some examples of global tactics that must be considered:
Even companies that only want to support and sell to one country or one region must have a global strategy. This may simply mean explaining to visitors in your tagline and on your web pages that you will only do business in certain areas. This will eliminate the problem of visitors from other countries wasting their time at your web site.
In the Health and Health Care industry, we found two examples of companies that have begun to think about addressing the needs of the global community:
30. The Niche Marketing Stage
In contrast with the real world, the Internet is an ideal environment for reaching homogeneous groups of consumers with similar likes, interests, hobbies, cultural backgrounds, age categories, etc. This could open the door to a market segmentation strategy on the Internet that targets several focused and narrow segments, versus a real world market segmentation strategy that would likely cover much broader segments.
The Niche Marketing Stage involves targeting niche market segments with specific and relevant products, services, marketing messages, references, branding strategies, etc. In a B2B environment, the segmentation strategies could be along these lines:
In a B2C environment, the segmentation strategies tend to be along these lines:
For example, imagine a travel agency that is targeting the global consumer travel opportunity – ABC Global Travel, "We offer the best vacation packages to meet your global travel needs." Now imagine a series of niche market competitors, each doing a great job of meeting the needs of a specific segment of the market:
It would be very difficult for ABC Global Travel to compete with these niche competitors on the Internet. This would likely result in a loss of market share – one customer at a time – one market segment at a time. A possible strategy for ABC Global Travel could be to select 5 niche segments that they have strength in, and create 5 very targeted niche strategies.
Building a niche marketing strategy involves the following tactics:
A niche marketing strategy should benefit your customers in the following ways:
A niche marketing strategy should result in an improved level of customer satisfaction, providing you with the following benefits:
Possible disadvantages of a very fragmented niche marketing strategy could be:
In the Health and Health Care industry, here is a specific example of a niche marketing strategy in action:
31. The e-Channel Stage
The e-Channel Stage involves the creation and execution of a global online channel strategy. Here are some potential objectives of your e-channel strategy:
There are 2 strong forces at work on the Internet that could have an impact on your e-channel strategy decisions. The first strong force is called disintermediation. Disintermediation refers to the elimination of channel layers, enabling certain companies to be able to shorten the value chain from their company to the end consumer. For example, rather than selling through distributors and retailers, a manufacturer could disintermediate these channel partners and sell direct to consumers.
Therefore, an important e-channel question for your company is whether or not to disintermediate your channel partners and sell direct, or avoid direct sales altogether and strictly support your existing channel partners both on the Web and off the Web. The answer to this question should be determined by a number of factors, including:
Depending on your answer to these questions, it may make sense to customize your e-channel strategy region by region. Because of an existing strong channel infrastructure in North America, it may make sense to avoid e-commerce altogether and only sell your offering through existing channel partners. In Europe however, it may make sense to attempt both direct online sales, as well as channel partner sales. And in markets such as Asia where you may not have any channel coverage, you may decide to sell entirely direct on the Web.
Selecting an appropriate e-channel strategy is further complicated by the fact there are many different approaches to conducting online commerce without fully disintermediating your existing channel partners. For example, you could avoid selling your primary product online, and only focus your online sales efforts on selling:
Some companies decide not to disintermediate their channel partners, but instead choose to use Internet and extranet investments to solidify their existing channel relationships. A strong e-channel support strategy could provide the following online functionality for their channel partners:
In the Health and Health Care industry, there is some evidence that companies are using the Internet to support their channel partners. For example:
In the Health and Health Care industry, there is some evidence that companies are using extranets to support their channel partners. For example:
The second strong force at work on the Internet is called cybermediation – the introduction of entirely new channel layers. These new cybermediaries are typically very specialized and focused on a narrow segment of the value chain for that industry.
When considering potential forces of cybermediation in your industry, you should consider the potential implications in terms of both threats and opportunities. Do any recent new cybermediaries pose a competitive threat to your company? Is it possible that new cybermediaries in the future could cause a major potential upheaval for your company? Could your company reposition itself as a cybermediary in order to strengthen your own market and competitive positioning? These are important considerations for any company.
32. The Strategic Alliance Stage
The Internet allows us to break down barriers between companies. This opens the door to creative strategic alliances between companies that will benefit all, as well as provide benefits to your customers. For example, imagine a company that sells wedding cakes. Rather than create their own web site, they could create a strategic alliance with a wedding photographer, a wedding videographer, a wedding hall, etc.
The benefit to the customer is that they could get everything they need at one web site, rather than having to go to 5 different web sites and conducting 5 different transactions. The benefits to the strategic alliance members include:
There are many different kinds of strategic alliances that you could consider:
Here are some examples of strategic alliances in the Health and Health Care industry:
33. The e-Marketplace Stage
E-marketplaces are e-business trading networks that enable the buying and selling of goods in a multi-vendor marketplace-like setting. E-marketplaces can also automate many of the functions and processes that occur in the value chain, as well as provide very targeted information for this segment such as breaking news, legislation, etc. Companies that participate in e-markets may be competitors and/or supply chain partners.
To build your e-marketplace strategy, you could take two approaches. You could create your own e-marketplace and convince companies to participate in it, or, you could participate in existing e-marketplaces. An example of an existing e-marketplace is e-Steel which is dedicated to the steel industry, or GoFish.com which enables fisherman/women and restaurants to conduct e-commerce transactions directly with each other.
In the Health and Health Care industry, we found this e-marketplace:
34. The Mobile Stage
The Mobile Stage involves the use of Internet appliances and wireless computing in order to redefine your Internet marketing and support strategies. This could involve devices such as digital cellular telephones, pagers or various forms of offline and online personal digital assistants.
The Mobile Stage potentially offers you some interesting opportunities to create mobile applications that may:
A good example of the use of mobile devices for customer support has been implemented by SwissAir. Rather than waiting in long check-in line-ups at the airport, SwissAir customers can check in using their own mobile phone. And in the future, with location-based mobile devices such as cellular phones, the computer could automatically do the check-in for you and phone you when you arrive at the airport!
In the Health and Health Care industry, we found the following examples of mobile wireless computing in action:
35. "The Future" Stage
"The Future" Stage refers to the forward thinking that must go on to ensure that your company is not sideswiped by emerging trends and entirely new competitors using entirely new business models. It involves thinking about the future and making sure that your company continues to head down the right path.
Some potential future e-business trends and applications in the Health and Health Care industry include: