The government’s E-Commerce Action Team believes its new electronic commerce advice website will be of use to those launching online businesses, despite its plan not to intervene too heavily with what is posted.
As part of its effort to raise awareness of commerce among industry sectors, Ecat is inviting businesses to post their success stories, views and questions on its e-commerce website. The information is intended to help organisations with their own e-commerce efforts.
A pilot project is under way to establish what gaps in information exist and what questions need to be answered, says Chris Claridge, a director of website developer ID Ltd and a member of the Ecat team. The site already provides a number of case studies and advice, though some of the advice comes from vendors and consultants and is clearly commercially coloured. Nevertheless, Claridge says the editorial hand will be light. “We will place on the website what we’re given,” he told the audience at Ecat’s first anniversary conference earlier this month.
Claridge is conscious of the need to avoid web-borne spam and spurious advice. His background includes teaching, he says, which offers the best training for weeding valid analysis, opinion and claims of achievement from the rubbish. He also did IT work for the Medical Industry Association, including a pilot e-procurement project for hospitals.
Advice generated by Ecat itself as to appropriate goals for a business moving into e-commerce and means for such a business to assess and improve its state of “e-commerce readiness” are included on the site, while legal, security, privacy and tax advice to potential e-commerce implementers are also prominently provided. Links are provided to a large number of other sites, from successful e-commerce practitioners to the Ministry of Economic Development’s e-commerce pages and legal advice on intellectual property.
The site provides an information exchange channel for the Ecat Network, an organisation aimed at getting e-commerce-implementing businesses together to exchange ideas. Members are required to put up contact information, including nomination of an individual as Ecat contact, and an account of their e-commerce priorities. They are encouraged to make regular reports on their progress and to provide speakers for Ecat events.
Ecat acknowledges its previous, more rudimentary site was not greatly used, and expects far greater response and information exchange from the new site.