Strategy: Shut down e-commerce

Just remember....'Amazon is coming.'

Just in the South African marketplace there are some very strong e-commerce players.

Checkers Sixty60, Takealot, Yuppiechef - these are the leading lights when it comes to e-commerce UX-functionality, logistics and overall customer experience.

These brands have set the benchmark against which every single other South African retailer, trying to get their e-commerce channel right, are measured against by customers.

So when a retailer continues to offer an e-commerce experience that is below the standards set by the likes of Checkers Sixty60, Takealot and Yuppiechef - what they are actually doing is paying good money to show themselves as completely incompetent.

A subpar e-commerce offering is hugely brand damaging.

What you are actually doing by continuing to flounder with your digital strategy is to generate strong evidence - often shared at dinner parties and as a punchline of many a joke - at your own expense.

I have a growing number of brand names of South African retailers that are attempting to 'do e-commerce' that are on my own joke list.

Make no mistake - getting e-commerce right is not easy. You need people with unbelievable skills, you need massive scale, you need systems integration expertise that makes the mind boggle.

This isn't a route-to-market option where you wave a magic wand and overnight you're the next Jeff Bezos.

But just because somebody at a conference, that one time, said that e-commerce was the future of retail, it doesn't mean that it's a future that you should be seeing yourself a part of.

If your e-commerce channel is below par, then the best strategic move you could make is possibly is to shut it down.

Stop the bleeding, save your brand reputation, save all the money you're spending on trying to get it right; and focus instead on what you are good at - whatever that might be.

E-commerce is not for everyone and if you're not going to go all in on making it a smash hit - then make sure it's not a part of your approach towards the future of your business.

If that doesn't sink in, then here's another little line you can say to your board when they ask you why you're suddenly eliminating the huge annual e-commerce development budget off next year's financial forecasts:

'Amazon is coming.'

That's right - if you think the benchmark is tough now, wait until the world champs hit our shores and make your little website look like a teenager's MySpace account back in 2002.

I know that this is a tough pill to swallow - I'm sure many millions have gone into building the functionally useless system that you have so reluctantly created, but as the saying goes there is no logical point in 'throwing more good money after bad.'

Fail fast, fail early and shut it down when your realise it's beyond the edges of your capabilities. You, and the board, will be so relieved when the headache is finally gone.