Online Retail: Getting the Most from Your IT Budget

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In eCommerce, your website is the backbone of your entire business. Your business depends on your technology infrastructure to run that site efficiently. 

Accordingly, IT is not an area where you should look to cut costs. 

However, there are steps that you can take to make sure that you are getting the most from your IT budget.  

Repair or Replace?

The concept of total cost of ownership (TCO) is an important one to consider in order to recognize if the maintenance of something is costing you more than just replacing it altogether. 

Though, initially, the cost of fixing something may seem cheap compared to replacing it, multiple “cheap” fixes can quickly add up. They also do not really address the problem itself. 

Temporary fixes to a problem that will persist indefinitely will not save you from spending more money in the future. 

Additionally, there may come a time where you hit a wall, and there are no more cheap fixes you can perform. In this case, you may not have budget for the expense of replacing a failing solution. Stretch your IT budget further by avoiding investing in inadequate technology. 

If you see that you are spending a sizeable amount of your budget to fix certain technological components of your operations, then you are better off replacing it.

Integration

The idea of integration is somewhat of an alternative to replacement if you have separate technological components that your business depends on and that are already functioning well within your business’ operations. 

By integrating new IT components with current ones already purchased you can get much more bang for your buck. The effects of optimizing your business in this way will also result in increased efficiency.

For example, if you are using an accounting software that you have invested a lot of money in, you are not going to want to have to replace it in order to implement something like a new eCommerce platform. 

Here, to maximize your IT budget, you should be careful to choose an eCommerce platform that can accommodate such integrations. 

By keeping an eye out for the potential to utilize what you already have with what you are planning to use, you can be sure that you do not have to sink a prior expense in a software. 

Moreover, integration will allow you to save money by avoiding having to re-train employees on how to use a new software. You will instead be able to integrate things that your employees are already familiar with in order to save yourself the training expense and time lost.

If you have something that is working well for your business, don’t ignore its value in your IT budget. Instead, carefully consider how you can optimize other aspects of your technology to include its usefulness. 

Leverage Open-Source Software

Open source software is inherently more affordable, and sometimes even free to use and build yourself. With that said, if you do not have your own development team, your business may wish to find an open source software that has a team attached to it in order to make it usable for you. 

Open source software is also uniquely affordable in that its ability to be adapted will allow you to use it for a longer period of time. You can also stay on top of new developments and continue to fit your solution to meet your evolving business needs. 

Open source solutions will allow you to be at the forefront of new developments in eCommerce. These kinds of solutions are constantly being improved on, and upgraded to meet customer expectations. As such, it is a form of insurance against the solution you are using suddenly becoming obsolete. 

If you can invest in an open source software with a team, and stipulate your requirements for that software, you can maximize your investment and be totally in control of how your money is being spent.

Safeguard

Investing money in things that will safeguard your business against failure will save your budget in the future. One of the most important things you should look to invest in is security and disaster recovery. With this kind of investment, you are protecting not only your IT budget, but also your overall company profits. 

A technological disaster could be a brutal and unexpected blow to a company’s bottom line. With hackers working tirelessly to expose weaknesses in a system, an underinvestment in your IT security could result in irreversible damage to your eCommerce business. You could expose yourself to a damaged reputation, lost data that cannot be recovered and even lawsuits.

Overall, the cost of recovering will be much larger than the initial the cost to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Think About the Future

Another component of your IT budget that lends itself to being forward-thinking is to notice trends in eCommerce. 

For example, mobile shopping is increasingly becoming a more important channel by which customers access you. So to consider making multi-channel marketing a priority in your IT budget, will ultimately pay off in the end. 

Competitors that did not consider this idea would then have to make room in their budget, if they are even able to do so. Thinking short-term limits your overall business plans/objectives.

Altogether, long-term savings drastically outweigh most short-term savings, and to be able to benefit from long-term savings, you need to predict the trends in eCommerce.

Conclusion

In eCommerce, an investment in your IT budget is an investment in your overall business. Getting the most from your IT budget ultimately requires careful spending considerations. 

By keeping the above ideas in mind when thinking about your IT budget, you can be sure that you have maximized the potential of everything your business needs from IT both now and in the future.


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