Stories by Constantine Von Hoffman

Do not forsake me

Customers want to know the truth about whether a product on your Web site is in stock. Real-time inventory is the best way to tell them.

Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing

It's high noon --does your website know where your inventory is? Most websites don't. And that often comes as a rude awakening to shoppers, most of whom assume that if an item is on a website, it's available for them to buy. Take Steve Katzman's too familiar tale of online-ordering woe. Katzman, CEO of Decoratetoday.com, went to the website of a very well-known brick-and-mortar retail chain to order some Calvin Klein blue jeans. He found a pair, bought them and then got an e-mail confirming that the retailer had received his order and was going to ship it to him. But five days later, just about the time he was expecting his designer jeans to arrive, Katzman got another e-mail that said, "Unfortunately, we had to cancel your order...for one of the following three reasons...." Katzman reacted the same way any Web shopper would: "I'll never go back there again," he says.

IT Architecture

For years, your company has been keeping track of which customers order what products from you. If members of your sales force could get their hands on that information, they'd be able to spot customer preferences and know which new products to recommend. If your design team staffers had that information, they could take customer preferences into account when creating new products. To really capitalize on this opportunity, both the sales force and design teams have to keep each other up-to-date on what's wanted and what's in the pipeline.