Institution: Georg-Simom-Ohm University of Applied Sciences, Nürnberg (D), Business Faculty.


Strategic Development of new online business. The case of Encodex International GmbH. (Management Summary)

Apostolos Vourvoutsiotis 


1 Introduction

E-commerce is widely expected to revolutionize the value chain in all the sectors of industry where distribution costs account for around 70% of the end price. Still, most forecasts about e-commerce emphasize the B2B area, where the process has been evolving before the Internet really took off (e.g. EDI). In the US, at the year 2000 30% of all B2B transactions have been conducted electronically.

The problem: Until now communication between retailers and suppliers has been normally bilateral. Each has its own product management system, and each negotiates with other companies on the basis of largely proprietary product databases. If businesses want to make full use of the communication opportunities provided by the internet, they need platforms to allow them easy, fast and accurate access to a centralized article master file.

The solution: ENCODEX provides a centralized article master file with detailed product description and information (article information including images) with an web-driven catalogue, which is essential for all online transactions. These article information can be integrated to the home-systems and used for market research, product presentation in B2C, B2B transactions and e-procurement.

The aim of this document is to support the business development of ENCODEX, to identify and analyze problems, define objectives and strategy.

This document is structured in two units. The first unit refers to the e-commerce and how to start new online business in general lines.

The second unit refers to the ENCODEX as case study of new online business.

The methodology

It has been essential for the development of this document search in literature, in reports, in competitors, at web sites as well as in internal papers in order to review, understand and adapt practices from e-commerce and online business in ENCODEX strategic development plan.

This document draws heavily upon the empirical experience of the author and the managers of ENCODEX .

The perspective of the managers of the ENCODEX and GfK

The design of the development strategy is build up on the needs of the managers of ENCODEX and GfK .

  1. Developments, Trends, Driving Forces and Strategies in
    e-commerce and online business

There are many different formal definitions of e-commerce and e-business. One possible definition of e-commerce would be: "any form of business transaction in which the parties interact electronically rather than by physical exchanges or direct physical contact".

The dominating language on the Internet worldwide is English. However, a recent study came to the conclusion that the first languages on the WWW in Europe are the national languages. The future of the Internet depends on the development of the network Access Points and the capacity of the backbones.

IDC forecasts that the Western European market for Internet E-commerce will rise from € 900 million in 1997 to € 26 billion in 2001. At the same time, the number of devices accessing the Web will grow from 14.2 million by the end of 1997 to almost 58 million by the end of 2001. According to GfK Western European revenues on B2B sector will grow to 728 billion Euro by 2003, from 33 billion in 1999, indicating how quickly this market segment will grow.

Types of E-commerce:

  • business-business, B2B
  • business-consumer, B2C
  • business-administration
  • consumer-administration

Companies' e-commerce business operations focus on:

  • Product promotion via online catalogues
  • Transaction processing (exchanging digitized monetary information)
  • Customer Support.

Opportunities and Barriers

Cost savings do not seem to be a key driver for enterprises to engage into e-commerce. Rather they seem to be interested in time and quality benefits. Overall, enterprises see the barriers to e-commerce either as problems of perception, rather than real obstacles, or as barriers that have been overcome and so are no longer a problem. Most important barriers are: Cost of Investment, Cultural, Infrastructure, Security, Consumer cost of access, Language and Political barriers.

Selecting a suitable strategy

Every company must make a clear choice between the 3 generic strategies of Porter. A company's objectives depend upon its chosen strategy. For SMEs in e-commerce, there is very little choice. All must start out in a market niche with a differentiation focus. Successful companies may either move into the broad market, based on differentiation, or in a few cases move into cost focus.

Setting objectives for e-commerce and online business

There is a well-known acronym (PRAMKU) that says that such objectives should be: Precise, Realistic, Acceptable, Measurable, Known, Understood, in terms of Quality and/or Quantity and/or Time and/or Cost.

Critical success factor definitions for new online business

A fundamental ‘horizontal’ success factor that underpins all the others, is the use of technology. At the Table below is presented the complete set of critical success factors and their definitions as they defined in a KITE study (Chappell, Feindt, & Jeffcoate, 1999) as well as are illustrated the competitive advantage that each critical success factor confers.



Success Factor


Competitive Advantage

1. Content

The presentation of a product or service offered over the Internet in a way that is attention-grabbing and compelling.

Customers are attracted to the site and persuaded to buy.

2. Convenience

The useability of the web site for the purpose for which it was designed: for example, to assist, buying or selling, to find information, to track a process.

Users find it easy to carry out the process, so they are more likely to use the site and return to it.

3. Control

The extent to which organisations have defined processes that they can manage. For example, a company may have an agreed process with its fulfilment company whereby it is informed when its products are delivered to customers; or a company may have a process for responding to customer queries within a certain timeframe; or for changing and updating information on its web site.

The e-commerce business is efficient and responsive, and is well-positioned to be able to improve, automate, and integrate processes in the future.

4. Interaction

The means of relationship-building with individual customers by providing timely pre-sales information and excellent after-sales support.

The business builds up a critical mass of loyal customers.

5. Community

The means of relationship-building with groups of like-minded individuals/organisations by enabling the exchange of information and services tailored to the needs of the community.

The business builds a critical mass of highly loyal customers/partners.

6. Price Sensitivity

The sensitivity of a product or service to price competition on the Internet.

The business positions itself as a leading supplier of a price-competitive commodity/or non/less price-sensitive value-added product or service, depending on strategy.

7. Brand Image

The ability to build up a brand name for the e-commerce business, and its products and services, using online and offline brand-building techniques.

The more awareness a business can generate for its site, the greater the volume of traffic and potential for sales.

8. Commitment

A strong motivation for using the Internet and the will to innovate.

The E-commerce venture is driven by a strong vision that motivates all concerned to succeed

9. Partnership

The extent to which an e-commerce venture uses partnerships to leverage Internet presence and expand its business.

Partners can extend the market reach of an e-commerce company and enable it to provide services it would otherwise not have the resources to carry out

10. Process


The extent to which companies can change and automate business processes.

The business can respond quickly and cost-effectively to new market opportunities.

11. Integration

The provision of links between underlying IT systems in support of partnership and process improvement.

Integration enables companies to carry out new and extended (Extranet) business processes in real-time, reliably and cost-effectively.

Critical success factors, Source: Chappell, Feindt, & Jeffcoate, 1999

3 Description of ENCODEX

ENCODEX International, founded in 1998 with its headquarters in Nuremberg, Germany, is a wholly owned subsidiary of GfK AG and US based NPD Group with a focus in the e-business arena.

ENCODEX is an international, multilingual (in 6 languages for the moment), standardised item master file for durable goods with 450.000 articles, which is accessible online. It is to become the communication platform for retailers and manufacturers in this sector. Thus ENCODEX is the basis and a significant prerequisite for all E-Commerce initiatives.

ENCODEX as Content

The cornerstones of Encodex online services are:

1. The database - ENCODAT

Up to 160 General and Specific Features covered by ENCODEX databank. The content of the data base can be separated in three parts:

  • General Features, which describe all articles in the same way (e.g. EAN, Manufacturer code number, List Price Information, Logistical information, Text for product description)
  • Specific Features, which describe the article of one article group with the relevant set of features
  • Images of the articles in different resolutions and logos of the according product families and brands

Sectors covered by ENCODEX:

  • Consumer Electronics
  • Telecommunication
  • Information Technology
  • Major Domestic Appliances
  • Small Domestic Appliances
  • Photo – Optics

2. Software

TIS a Japanese software development enterprise has developed the software encodex++ for online access of the databank. The software is 100% pure Java with flexible Screen Design (easily customized for various functions and markets) and Multilingual (six languages).

3. Data Alignment/Mapping

Integrates the ENCODEX product master file in the in-house-system of the users. Thus, the product master file obtains a considerably higher added value. Data and Image can be download to the house system, integrated and used for market research, e-procurement, or presentation of products on the users site (B2C).

4. Online access of the system

Access can be made through any network using web technology. To reach critical mass as soon as possible it was decided to use the Internet.

Target Groups

ENCODEX is targeted solely to the B2B user community. The final consumer has no access to the data base. The focus of ENCODEX lies on the following target groups:

  • Manufacturers
  • Retail organizations
  • E-Tailers, which sell over the internet
  • Marketplaces and platforms in the Internet for E-Commerce and E-Procurement
  • Others

Advantages for Retailers and Suppliers:

  • significant reduction of the coding workload
  • accuracy and completeness of data
  • relief of purchase department, product managers and sales staff
  • replacement of other means of information (paper, CD-R, fax etc.)
  • coverage of nearly complete consumer durable assortment
  • daily update
  • better client service (internally, in the whole supply chain and to the final consumer)
  • access to Category Management and ECR
  • lower cost for distribution of data
  • objective product comparisons
  • assortment analysis
  • better client service to the retail organizations

4 Analysis of the relevant market

ENCODEX is tended to improve the supply chain and ECR processes as the communication platform between all market participants providing them an online solution. ENCODEX is targeted solely to the B2B user community (Suppliers, Retailers, e-Retailers, e-marketplaces. The final consumer has no access to the data base of ENCODEX.

The insufficiencies in the supply chain:

  • The double inputting of purchase orders
  • Lack of knowledge of manufacturer stock availability at the time of order
  • Purchase orders are lost or booked twice by the manufacturer
  • Data input cost to retailers is significant
  • Retailers manually input price changes into their computer systems
  • Retailers spend much time capturing new model information
  • Manufacturers do not receive timely sell through or stock holding data
  • After sales exchanges between manufacturer and retailer are paper based


Trends in the "kind of business"

Retail/wholesale. A question of particular importance to enterprises in retail/wholesale is the reduction of supply and logistics costs. Companies are looking at electronic relationships with their supply side to reduce cost.

Manufacturing/Suppliers. Large companies are moving their procurement onto the Internet, which will bring all their suppliers and sub-assembly suppliers online. SMEs are particularly caught up in the reengineering of the supply chain to support electronic trading. Fact is that the industry has insufficient supply chain based on business practices unchanged for many years and the benefits of B2B solutions are visible and there is a wish of collaboration of Retailer, Suppliers and service providers to release these benefits for the benefit of the entire industry.

B2B community. The real e-commerce revolution is in the B2B segment. B2B grows very rapidly and represents over 80% of total e-commerce. It is the most strategic and urgent area. B2B allows businesses to cut their purchasing and procurement costs. It reduces time-to-market, and improves product and service quality. It allows companies to reinvent their core business and shape up new electronic marketplaces.

Virtual marketplaces. Virtual marketplaces are web-sites on the Internet where several suppliers of goods and services can come into contact with several potential buyers, and do business. Virtual marketplaces open up a whole new range of opportunities in B2B e-commerce, and the rapid growth in the numbers of such sites is visible throughout many sectors of industry.

Today, the three prevailing models of e-marketplaces are:

  • Extended Trading Network
  • Governed Exchange
  • Virtual Collaborative Network

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). EDI involves the exchange of standardized, structured information between organizations, permitting direct communication between computer systems and reducing or eliminating the need for human involvement and the re-keying of information.

Required technology: XML. XML is appearing as the language of the e-business. XML was defined by the independent World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) under the SGML standard to make up for some of HTML's obvious shortfalls. XML brings two major breakthroughs to the Internet. First, XML is a powerful, flexible, means to organize the information content. Second, XML is the language that will support all automated transactions between and within all types of organizations.

EDI/XML. There is no doubt at all that XML-based data interchange is going to catch up fast. Its implementation is linked to substantial initial investments in sophisticated technical environments (value added networks with expensive and complicated data communications systems, for instance). Since not every firm can afford investments on this scale, the great majority of small and medium-sized business are barred from enjoying the benefits of efficiency enhancements through EDI-based business processes.


Not only GfK tries to create new standards in the markets of Consumer Electronics, Information Technology, Telecommunication and Photo. Fortunately, most of these competitors focus on one country and/or branch.

5 Internal Analysis

Current status of ENCODEX

Two ENCODEX organizations were founded already before the foundation of ENCODEX International due to the market requests. Encodex started in Japan at the beginning of 1999. Several suppliers and retailers login are using the ENCODEX system since then. The ENCODEX roll out in Netherlands was in August 1999. The system is running successfully and cooperation established with industry associations in consumer electronics and white goods. Since April 2000 ENCODEX has been online in the key European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK). In Germany the first contracts with the Photo Industry association are signed. In Italy, Spain, UK and France contacts with the major players from the industry and retail side have been established and service announcement has been done. The ENCODEX has been presented in several companies.

Current strategy

The current strategy focus on the large and international Suppliers and Retailers which are important for the start up period. When major players would have been contracted then the ENCODEX article master file will have a brighter acceptance of more market participants. A snowball effect is expected. Objective of ENCODEX by using the resources and contacts of GfK is to achieve early market acceptance and establish success story as testimonial at the first period of running the ENCODEX article master file. Furthermore a long term objective is to achieve global acceptance and a quasi position in the global market of durable goods which is the core business of GfK panel services.

Description of the International Organization Structure of ENCODEX

The international aspect is a further important advantage against the isolated solutions of the competitors. Therefore, ENCODEX has to be organized as a standardized international offer already from the beginning. The ENCODEX International GmbH is responsible for the software and coordination mainly of the national chapters of ENCODEX, as an organization above them. The national chapters of ENCODEX in every country are the business units of GfK and they are responsible mainly for marketing, contracting and delivering data from their countries. With this flexible structure, ENCODEX using the organization of GfK, has a an international presence and can expand repidly in every country that GfK is present.

Capabilities (compared to competitors)

  • ENCODEX is the only one so far international, multilingual (in 6 languages available) and online article master file which covers all non food products.
  • The Article master file includes, compared to the competitors, an extended number of features for every product and covers all consumer durable goods.
  • A major advantage compared to the competitors is the GfK AG as the parent company of ENCODEX. ENCODEX is using the database of GfK, the international structure, the experience, the name of GfK as neutral and the resources of GfK
  • The existing experience with the ENCODEX pilot projects in the Netherlands and Japan
  • Important is the technology which has been decided to be used. The advanced technology used by ENCODEX compared to the competitors, which are still off line or even online they use lower regarding the technology, quality and functionality software, gives to ENCODEX a competitive advantage.

Problems during the implementation of ENCODEX which have been identified

During the contacts with the suppliers and Retailers in several countries the following problems have been identified which seems to work as barriers for the further development and expansion of ENCODEX.

At he Commercial side


  • Fear of the transparency in the market.
  • Wait and see attitude.
  • Suppliers and Retailers have developed and invested on their own system
  • They afraid the dependence of GfK as international standard
  • Companies, mainly Suppliers, which try to delay the realization of ENCODEX


  • The content of the databank is insufficient concerning articles
  • For Retailers with large number of outlets the fee is high.


  • Different acceptance in countries due to the local market structure
  • Secure the quality of data delivered by the Suppliers
  • There is still not live data in France, Italy, UK and Spain
  • Coding in different languages, and translation in local Language

At the technical side

  • Slow access to the system even with high speed connection.
  • Compatibility problems regarding the applet download



SWOT analysis




  • GfK experience, support, organization, resources, infrastructure and neutral position as guarantee for success.
  • Market leader. The only one so far international and multilingual master file with extended number of articles and features in non food industry
  • The existing article data of MDM database with 500.000 articles
  • Online system which allows the users to access the information from anywhere
  • Use of up-to-date technology (java, xml, EDI/EDIFACT)
  • Cost and time savings for the coding departments
  • Quality of services

Dependence on the Suppliers

Suppliers participation depending on the Retailers acceptance (Chicken-egg dilemma)

Return of investment.

Secure the quality of the delivered data.

There still a need for more complete articles and live data in all countries

Technical hinters

Different acceptance of ENCODEX in every country due to local market structures.



  • Participate in virtual marketplaces as article information provider
  • ENCODEX to become the communication platform between Retailers and Suppliers worldwide
  • GfK to have a quasi position
  • Secure the GfK panel business

Not to achieve an early critical mass and acceptance of the major market players.

Suppliers-Retailers to link their system

Extranets which have been developed by the suppliers

Competition from international organizations or companies that they have the power to build such a database


6 strategic objectives and Strategy formulation

Vision: Establish ENCODEX as a common language for Retailers and Suppliers worldwide providing product description and product information online.

Mission: Through the established cooperation with the major players in the European area and later on in global market to achieve critical mass and establish ENCODEX as global standard.

Strategy: ENCODEX differentiation strategy is seeking to win competitive advantage by offering a better service and content as product description and range than competitors.


For the Start up period:

  • a clear objective is to achieve early critical mass.
  • to ensure the quality and quantity of the delivered data.
  • to assure the acceptance of the market major players
  • ENCODEX system should be understood by all the actors
  • implement the EIDB as soon as possible
  • be precise with the target group focus. (Chicken - egg Dilemma)

When growing and establish business

  • to keep the leadership as online and international content provider
  • expand ENCODEX services in more countries
  • continues improvement
  • add new services
  • strategic cooperations with successful competitors or service providers

Ensure the business

  • upgrade the software using state of the art technology and standards
  • improve the data flow process
  • improve the offered services
  • ensure that the product information and features are still sufficient
  • ensure the quasi position of GfK panel business

Key success Factors

Technology as THE critical success factor above all the other factors

ENCODEX technologies can be briefly described in the following:

  • Software.
  • Data in Module
  • Data out / Data Alignment

Proposed Measures

  • Improve the speed of the java applet.
  • Finalize the data in module
  • Replace the CSV with XML format in data out
  • Start to plan and design the system requirements and architecture of the new version
  • Select carefully and cooperate closely with the company which will develop the new software

Community as a critical success factor

Community is the ability to built up a critical mass of customers/business partners. ENCODEX is targeted solely to the B2B user community. The final consumer has no access to the data base. The focus of ENCODEX lies on the following target groups:

  • Retailers
  • Suppliers
  • E-Tailers, online Retailers


  • Marketplaces and platforms in the Internet for e-commerce and e-procurement.
  • Others

Proposed Measures

  • Prioritization of target groups.
  • Adoption to local market structure

Commitment as a critical success factor

Commitment for e-companies is a clear idea of objectives and the demonstration of strong motivation using the internet. Investment is the indicator of the commitment.

Proposed Measures:

  • Keep on the business plan regarding strategic target and objectives
  • Organization of the ENCODEX national branches and staffing them
  • ENCODEX in international and national level should develop its own identity
  • The frequency of the ENCODEX managers' meeting could be increased with frequently and low-cost net-meetings
  • IT driven business. Invest more to this destination by employing more expertise IT staff.
  • All the staff of ENCODEX should be familiar with the ENCODEX used technology, data flow and terms and practices of the new economy
  • Be prepare to adopt new ideas and technologies

Content as a critical success factor

The meaning of content is that the e-companies should offer a unique and/or innovative product or service on the internet, using the technology to add value to their product or service. In this sense content for ENCODEX is the offered service (online access to a centralized article master file).

Proposed Measures:

  • Make explicit what ENCODEX is to all actors involved
  • Ensure content is up to date and correct regarding the quality
  • Implement and develop the EIDB as soon as possible
  • Enrich content (Product Groups and images) and features continually in response to requirements arising from customer research
  • ENCODEX web-site should be updated and add new functions and information
  • The design of the applet should be always updated and new functions should be added respecting the comments and demands of the customers
  • Develop new services

Pricing - The ENCODEX fee concept as a critical success factor

The chosen price calculation has to support an early reach of critical mass for both Retailers and Suppliers. A clear fee structure for all countries and participants is essential otherwise there is the danger the participants to compare the prices. Unfair prices and not clear price structures could lead to unpleasant situations.

Suppliers. The size of product group is important as well as the way of delivery of data by the Suppliers. The price has been designed to encourage the data delivery in ECX format where no efforts are needed by the side of ENCODEX for feeding the Database. A discount of course for more than one Product Groups has been designed. At the fee concept the Data In Module is included as well as the installation and one day training course in order the Suppliers to use the module and to be familiar with the functions.

Retailers. The case of the Retailers is more complicated and different scenarios have to be evaluated.

The criteria in order to evaluate the alternatives are:

  • Profit for ENCODEX
  • Attractive price for the large Retailers and industry associations
  • Prompt them to participate especially at the early stage of ENCODEX
  • The fee concept should be fair and will allow small Retailers and even stores to use ENCODEX

Proposed fee concepts depended on:

1. Number of outlets (outlets are the selling points)

2. Turnover of the Retailer within the country

3. The usage of the system

4. The size of the Retailer. Should be defined at least 3 different categories (small, medium, large). A price threshold and ceiling for every category and a price per outlet. Exception are the large Retailers where only the maximum price is fixed.

5. Headquarters price plus additional connection

Proposed Measures:

  • Contact one by one the major Retail organizations in the European market and handle the price with a threshold and ceiling price for using ENCODEX in all countries
  • Establish an open communication line between the national chapters regarding offers to the major players
  • For the rest of the users of the system use the per outlet fee with a minimum and maximum, and according the number of Product Groups
  • A trial period up to 6 months with no fee charge has been planned.
  • Contact e-tailers and motivate them to participate with reduced fee

Interaction as a critical success factor

Those companies that best understand their customers’ needs win Successful e-commerce models must understand customers’ stated and unstated needs. The helpdesk of ENCODEX provides problem monitoring and resolution to support day-to-day operation of ENCODEX.

Basically there are two kind of problems the helpdesk will be confronted with:

Technical Problems. The technical provider TIS will provide full-service 2nd level helpdesk support to track and resolve problems reported by ENCODEX helpdesk.

Content Problems. Content is always matter of ENCODEX. The second level support concerning content has also to be provided by ENCODEX/GfK. The ENCODEX staff for that task has to be supported by GfK staff and its specialists in the single product fields.

Proposed Measures:

  • Provide key personnel in the company which can bare with the volume and the nature of the problems
  • Organize help desk services per telephone and online
  • Keep a track with questions analyze them and provide Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on the web-site.
  • Translate in all languages and update regularly the FAQ page as well as the online help manual
  • Create chat groups or email lists where customers discuss the common problems
  • Build email list of customers for sales and marketing purposes
  • Create an electronic newsletter to provide feedback and helpful information to customers, with special offers and news about the company
  • Set up a subscription service to inform customers of updates to their products.

Promotion of ENCODEX and Brand image as a critical success factor

ENCODEX as an e-business company must use the Internet for online promotion but cannot underestimate the off-line conventional promotion methods.

Proposed Measures

Offline promotion.

  • Print short as well as more detailed brochures in English and in every language that ENCODEX is available
  • Participate at international as well as national exhibitions with theme relevant to the Categories covered by ENCODEX
  • Participate or simply visit exhibitions where potential partners especially from the B2B sector present their company and their services
  • Presentation in Conferences, press interviews, ‘chat shows’, and in targeted publications (e-business and industry related)
  • Direct Marketing on international level and National.


  • Promote ENCODEX through the search engines frequently.
  • Add the logo of ENCODEX at the partners and large customers web-sites
  • Leverage the brand image of major Retailers, association of suppliers or partners on the ENCODEX Web site

Partnership and cooperation as a critical success factor

Strategic partnerships with competitors, software companies for system integration, B2B software and e-marketplaces owners are essential for the development and promotion of ENCODEX.

Third Party participation. ENCODEX International is generally open for the participation of third parties (e.g. NPD, TIS). Since ENCODEX International has no participation in national ENCODEX organisations and no owner rights regarding EIDB, the new shareholders are excluded from the important core assets of GfK.

Proposed Measures:

  • Forge partnerships to expand service range and capabilities. This increases the attractiveness by broadening the range of the offered services
  • ENCODEX should be a part of the Global Commerce Initiative (GCI).
  • Investigate partnerships with competitors
  • Explore the potential of partnering with professional associations and other business.
  • Participate in European Commission (EC) funding programs
  • Create a partnership logo to be added to partners site and Attain Web Site Traffic

Process improvement as a critical success factor

The automation of the data flow, starting of the inhouse systems of the Suppliers till the in-house system of the final user through the ENCODEX system, is essential for the development and establishment of ENCODEX.

Proposed Measures:

  • Improve the Internal data process with mdas and MDM
  • The software (applet) of ENCODEX should have the ability to communicate direct with MDM and query the database (MDM)
  • Improve the image process using appropriate software which can enter images to the database automatically
  • Online Data In module could help the instant data delivery by Suppliers

Integration as a critical success factor

Business process automation is crucial for Suppliers, Retailers and marketplaces to survive and thrive in the new economy. ENCODEX receives the data from suppliers using EAI faster and correct regarding quality and Retailers using ENCODEX as source of product description can integrate these information to their system. The development of EAI of the Suppliers and Retailers is crucial and builds the critical mass ENCODEX needs to survive. These EAI services can be delivered by ENCODEX partners and ENCODEX to act as a consultant.

Proposed Measures:

  • Data In module fully integrated with ERP and CRM systems of the Suppliers.
  • Use third parties to carry out integration between Suppliers internal software and ERP
  • The existing CSV download format should be replaced with XML. The XML format can be easily integrated to the inhouse systems of the users

Control as a critical success factor

ENCODEX needs to control how many users login the system, for how long and from where.

Proposed Measures:

  • Select, present and evaluate the data in frequent basis
  • Use these data to organize and improve ENCODEX performance and content

7. Conclusions

Even ENCODEX is not an e-commerce company it has been essential to review the trends and the recommended strategies for e-commerce companies in order to adapt these practices in ENCODEX strategic development. ENCODEX is not an e-commerce company but it is an online company (dot com) which supports e-commerce and therefor is a part of e-business sector and the new economy.

E-commerce in Europe, the area where ENCODEX is developed, is still in its infancy. All the projections predict that it will boom between 2001 and 2003. Only a small part of the companies and especially the big ones are active in B2B area, but it is planed to. In summary it can be realized that an uniform market standard is appreciated more or less by everyone, but in connection with a few doubts. These doubts mainly concern the future power relations and the dependence of the participants and their possibilities to have influence on such a system.

Important issues for the growth of ENCODEX are:

At the technical side

  • Integration of the ENCODEX system with the users inhouse systems regarding data in and out
  • Process improvement of the data flow in ENCODEX
  • Technology is crucial for the not only start up but establishment of ENCODEX. ENCODEX should start to prepare the new software which will be released in the next years. E-commerce technologies belong to the hyper-competition where planning plays a essential role

Commercial side

  • Build early critical mass
  • Retailers and Suppliers are both important. Suppliers are important for building and updating the article master file and Retailers for achieving an early critical mass.
  • Develop the EIDB as soon as possible
  • Strategic partnerships and cooperation in order to gain new capabilities and customers
  • Develop new services. ENCODEX should support its business partners on their way to e-business through establishing consulting services and providing additional services with partners.