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Bricks to Clicks: E-strategies That Will Transform Your Business

by Ed McMahon

“Bricks to clicks” is a catchy phrase that describes the long and complex process that an established “real-world” retailer must undertake in order to establish an online retail presence. Ed McMahon, a Toronto-based management consultant, specializes in explaining to businesses the ins and outs of this process, and how they can best use the Internet to attract and retain customers. Judging from the recent spate of headlines about dot-com bombs, a growing number of companies could benefit from his advice.

McMahon expresses surprises over how many established retailers create online shopping sites without the most basic preparation or understanding of e-commerce. The Internet, he writes, is “a business accelerator unlike anything seen before” with “a scalpel-like propensity to slice away activities, processes and institutions that do not add value in a way that is noticeable to consumers.” But in the end it “changes nothing.”

The retailers who succeed online are the ones who recognize that the principles that made them successful in the real world still apply on the Internet. What’s different, he writes, is the speed at which companies succeed or fail. What winners recognize – and losers don’t – is that attracting customers to a web site is only half the job. A properly executed e-commerce business plan must cover everything from advertising and promotion to hassle-free returns and customer support, as well as take into account every aspect of the parent company’s resources.

Be warned – this is no “how-to” book on launching an online business, but an examination of business theory that’s intended for retailers who are seriously considering an online presence. This is also a book that managers in larger companies may find more useful than, say, self-employed small businesspeople; the examples and advice McMahon provides are clearly geared towards people working within larger organizations.

With such chapter titles as “The Opportunity Matrix” and “The Market Space Dimension,” there’s also little of interest here to casual online observers. But for businesspeople tired of the hype and looking for commonsense advice, this book could be worth its weight in silicon.