Solution Ram Rod

Today I want to share with you something that happened recently, that quite frankly has left me angered. It is a practice that my team coined the “Solution Ram Rod”. It is the practice many underhanded technology companies use when they want to sell their client on a specific solution, regardless of the viability for their needs.

To give you some background, last week I was contacted by a technology company, asking if I was available to help them with a short term eCommerce project. As you know, we often do work for other technology companies, so I set up a call to discuss their needs. They have a client here in Delaware that is looking at eCommerce solutions, and retained the services of this group to help them complete their business analysis, prepare solution reviews, make a solid recommendation based upon their needs, and help with the implementation.

Since my company has worked with numerous eCommerce solutions, this was a project that was right up our alley. After a lengthy discussion, they asked if they could schedule a call with their “evaluator” to make sure this would be a good fit for the project. So, later on that day, this lady calls me from India to conduct her “evaluation”. Well, after 10 minutes on the phone with her, and all of the questions she was asking with regards to Magento Enterprise, I stopped her and asked if she was going to discuss other solutions. Her response was “I understand there are other solutions, though we want to recommend Magento Enterprise for this client, and want to make sure you know enough about the platform to make it stand out.”

I was stunned. Here is a company with a new client that has not conducted business on the internet before, and they want to recommend a solution that will cost the client a minimum of $15,550 in licensing fees right out of the gate.

I got off the phone with her, immediately called the project manager, and asked him if he could disclose some information, just to make sure we were on the same page. He said it depended on the questions, so I told him the primary one was “How many products does the client have?” He said “I believe a few hundred, though we haven’t gotten that far in the analysis.” So next came the obvious question: “Then why are you pushing Magento Enterprise?” His response was “They have both client and business facing needs, and Magento is what our people know.” At this point I was a little dumbfounded, so I asked the question that stood out in my head “If you have a staff that knows the system, why do you need me?”

Readers, the answer he gave me is one that drove home what I have preached about with regards to working with a company half a world away. He said “To be blunt, they are hesitant to work with an India based company, so we wanted a local American face there to work with them, and set their mind at ease about buying the solution we want to offer them.”

I said thanks for the info and hung up. The realization burning in my mind that all they cared about was selling the client exactly what they wanted to sell them at any cost, and in the process take more jobs away from Americans. It made me sick thinking about it.

If your company is getting ready to become a victim of these type of ram rod practices, stop before it is to late. I have seen way to many companies get sucked into this type of situation, and in the end it winds up costing them more than they ever imagined or budgeted for.

If you need help making a decision on a solution that is right for your business, we here at Delaware 302 can help. We will offer you honest unbiased advice, and help you choose the right solution that will not only fit your needs now, but one that can grow with your business.

Let’s build the future together.

 

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Delaware 302 Business Services

Are you a small business or non-profit organization struggling with your web site, or trying to understand how to use social media? Let Delaware 302 help! The company which just announced the start of its online only store of merchandise branded with the State’s singular area code in November 2011 is now launching 302 Business Solutions.

302 Business Solutions is focused on assisting First State small businesses and non-profit organizations with the web site, graphic design, social media, and public relations challenges that they face. The web site/technology side of the offshoot business will be handled by Delaware 302 owner Phil Wojcik, who has 15 years of experience in website design, hosting, computer programming, and integrated data solutions.

“I’ve found that many small businesses are struggling with technology challenges. They either want to put together a website or online store, but don’t have the technical or design know how- or they have a site and are having issues with their current website hosting provider not providing the personalized level of customer support that they need,” says Wojcik. “I’ve got the experience to be able to help them with all of these issues and more. We believe in providing individualized service to customers, not try to sell them with a one-size-fits-all product.”

Wojcik says that many small businesses and non-profits also struggle with the affordability of technology solutions. As a small business itself, Delaware 302 can offer its services at a fraction of the price the larger design houses charges. Services that 302 Business Solutions will offer on the technology side include: web site design/redesign, ecommerce solutions, website hosting options, data migration, graphic design and branding.

Social media and public relations/public information will be handled by Andrea Summers, the company’s Director of Media relations. Summers also has 15 years of experience in the media, and public information field. Starting out as a local TV news reporter in the mid-1990s, she then spent the next 12 years as a Public Information Officer, specializing in gaining positive exposure for her agency. She is in charge of all of Delaware 302’s social media outlets.

“I’ve seen many small businesses and non-profit organizations that could expand and grow their business through the use of social media, be completely confused or overwhelmed by it,” says Summers. “If you know how to use it correctly you can reach many more potential or current clients/customers than ever before. I can help these groups set up their social media tools and provide training and guidance on how to best use them. We’ve also got options for those who want to use social media but be completely hands off.”

In addition to supporting businesses with social media tactics, 302 Business solutions also offers services including press release writing and dissemination, analyzing and creating advertising buys, press event coordination and media training.

More information on 302 Business Solutions can be found on Delaware 302’s website at www.DE302.com. Or contact us at info@delaware302.com. You can also friend us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DE302, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Delaware_302, connect with us on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/delaware302, or follow our blog at https://delaware302.wordpress.com. Delaware302.com is the online presence of Delaware302 LLC.

Helping Hand

In following with the theme of my last post, I wanted to share a story with you. It is about a fellow Delaware business owner, who I had the unique pleasure of helping to migrate her store over to a new solutions provider.

This particular business has a very large on-line store, with close to 5,000 products in their catalog. The market they service is not a large one, though there are many competitors that she is up against with her business. The provider she was using had a very nice system, though it had fallen way behind the times. With all of the changes being made with regards to the search engines, Google Products, the infusion of social media, and so on, she found her site visits, and sales, were on a rapid downward slide.

In her absolute frustration over all of this, and the lack of response on the part of the provider to her needs, along with the owner of that company telling her point blank “We have no contract, I am not obligated to provide anything”, she made the decision to move her store. This seemed to be an insurmountable task though, due in large part to the fact she couldn’t extract all of her information from the store she was using. The solutions provider had made sure that once the information went in, only they could get it out.

She eagerly went to work though, along with her employees, building a brand new store from the ground up. Using the import system of the solution she decided to go with, she created massive Excel files to lay out the framework for the products and options, and product by product they manually typed in descriptions, keywords, and uploaded images.

About a month into the process though, she realized she was in way over her head with this. There were large holes of information that she needed to have in the system to make it as robust as possible: from Google Product codes, to image tagging, to chart inclusions, to the layout, and about a dozen other items,  it seemed like she was almost back to square one. This is when she called me and said “HELP!”

Knowing her sales had slowed down to a trickle due to massive problems with her current provider, and that time was of the essence, and critical to the continuation of her business, I immediately dove in to help. Using the wealth of experience I had gained in the last 14 years of working in the technology industry, specifically my in-depth knowledge of data manipulation, design, search engine marketing, and ecommerce, I was able to quickly fill in all of the holes and have her store ready to launch within 30 days.

As business owners, many times we get a superman complex, and believe that we can do everything ourselves. I know I am guilty of this. In the end though, when it comes down to mission critical needs for your business, don’t be afraid to reach out for assistance because of past bad experiences. There are many reputable businesses and resources out there that can help you achieve your goals.  Asking for help doesn’t make you weak; in fact it makes you business savy.  Remember, everyone can use a helping hand every once in a while.

eCommerce Contortions

There is an old adage that says: Let the buyer beware. In today’s world of internet business though, the phrase should say: Let the business owner beware. With the endless number of solutions providers, and their ecommerce systems, and the multiple options available for taking payments, it is enough to make a business owner shake their head, and groan over the cost of getting their store launched.

One of the questions I get asked by business owners more times than any other, with regards to the decisions they made with their on-line store, is: “Do you think I made a mistake with this?” My response is almost always “I wish you had called me first.”

Many businesses get drawn in by the sales pitch. They listen to the excitement that the representative from the company exudes, and they are sucked in. By the time the sales visit is done, they are singing the praises of the product they just bought, and are doing the happy dance over how much business they are going to get from this. After the site is launched though, the reality sets in. They have just paid a small fortune to build the site, and then the exorbitant monthly hosting fees start. All the while there is barely a trickle of traffic to the site.

These businesses learn the hard way, that it takes more than a system and a design to generate revenue. It takes hard work to promote the site, through both social media, and with the right combination of keywords to organic content to get the search engines to place them. They need to spread the word that they are on the web now, and open for business.

As the business struggles to try to make sense of everything, and get their store tuned to make it easier to find, this is when the sharks start to circle, because they can smell the money that can be made from these businesses. This is when the business starts to get bombarded by every search engine marketing company, social media planning expert, and the merchant services companies looking to help them save money on their banking fees. Many times these businesses cave in, and open their wallet once again, to have these “experts” fix everything.

The truth of the matter, is that almost all of this the business can do themselves with the right support and guidance. It does not need to cost a small fortune to host your site, build a good design, utilize keywords effectively, or make your content robust. There are many solutions out there that give you free control over your content and store, and have solid knowledge bases to help you along.

If you don’t like the solution you have, there is nothing to stop you from changing it. Take the time to investigate your options, and find the solution that fits your business, not what someone else thinks your business should be. Take control of the situation – this is your business not theirs.