E-Commerce Learning Modules by Dr. Selia Karsten

Module Six: Benchmarks and Best Practices


In the world of business, best practices are those ways of conducting business by the most admired and successful companies. Benchmarking is what we call finding those best practices within organizations, then studying and documenting these performance standards. Refer to your text book on pages 560-562, "How Retailers Benchmark: Strategies for Competing Against the Best". Note the five major strategies - price, service, location, selection and total quality.

"Process benchmarking" is a study that uses surveys/interviews, and site visits to identify how others perform the same functional tasks or business objectives. The idea is to gain insight and ideas and to affirm and support quality decision making by executives. The benefits of process benchmarking come as businesses employ recommendations and begin to change making marked improvements in the productivity, costs, and revenues of the company.

Resources for Benchmarks and Best Practices:

The following are links where you can read further about benchmarking,  best practices and creating survey/questionnnaires.:

Best Practices, LLC - Best Practice Benchmarking, Consulting, and Business-to-Business Research
Internet Resources for Best Practice management - University of South Australia Library's extensive list of links
Internet Best Practices - Corporate Internet Lessons, Success Stories and Case Studies
Reputation Management - What Best Practice Companies Do
World's Best - World's Best Quality and Best Practice Links
The Benchmarking Exchange & Best Practices Network - although this site solicits membership, there is information to be gained without joining.
Benchmarking - International Institute for Internet Industry Benchmarking
OpinionPower.com - how to create free quick polls, surveys and forms
Making Good Questions - a slide show giving ideas on questions by Grant Farr
Perseus ExpressPoll - How to create an instant poll on the web.

Examples of Best practices for E-commerce Sites

1. Purpose: make sure the purpose of the site is clear.  If selling products or services provide clear order-pay sequences.
2. Navigation: Be sure the site visitor and potential customer can move around easily and not get lost or sent to a location that does not serve your plan. Providing an overall site map for navigation is important.
3. Target audience: aim the site to distinct types of consumers who will be interested in the content.
4. Currency: Date the information and news to show how current they are.
5. Reliability and Consistency: Once a satisfactory process is established, resist changing it - let the site evolve within certain perimeters.
6. Customer Relations and Satisfaction: Provide click-on access to complementary products and services that enhance the products and services you are marketing.

Can you see how price, service, location, selection and total quality will also play a part in e-commerce competition?


1. Build an interview questionnaire or survey that has two parts.
Part One: Ask about "best practices" related to a company doing business and marketing in traditional way. Part Two: Ask questions that reflect business methods now being employed in the world of e-commerce.

The "rules" given above are a few ideas for conducting business on the web. You will likely be able to come up with more suggestions.

2. List and label five links to businesses that you believe are successful in conducting their businesses both in traditional ways and now, on the web. These should be companies you would be interested in studying with the help of your questionnaire. Explain why you believe it would be valuable to study these businesses.

Please submit your completed assignment to your instructor.

Teacher's Notes

Learning Outcomes:

learners will be able to:
1) identify best practices for successful businesses both traditionally and on the Web.
2) gain experience in accessing the Web for resources on the subjects of benchmarking, best practices and the creation of surveys and questionnaires
3) compare traditional and e-commerce best practices related to business
4) develop a survey/questionnnaire to study best practices

Suggestions: To enrich or extend this learning activity, you may want to give the following as
additional assignments.

It may be valuable to spend time in class brainstorming ideas for what constitutes a "best practice" for various businesses. Examples could include the following businesses: restaurant, department store, newspaper, or you may want the students to come up with types of businesses on their own.

The criteria for the preparation of the survey/questionnaires will be helpful to students. You may want to discuss the following items:
1. What length and style would be good for an introduction to the questionnaire/survey?
2. How many of them have ever taken a survey?  What procedures were used?
3. How many questions are they expected to write and what types of questions might be most effective?
4. How might they arrange to conduct this study and to manage the results so those results would be beneficial to others?
5. How would a poll be of value as opposed to a survey or questionnaire?

A reminder - when using external links, there is no absolute guarantee that these links will remain active for a predictable length of time. Usually, students will inform their teachers when they come across a dead link. It would be a good idea to notify McGraw-Hill in the case of a link that is no longer active.

NOTE to the editor:

The graphic I have used is one of my own and it is quite abstract. It may be possible to find a more literal graphic that works better for this module, for example, someone writing or the clip art of a check mark in a box.
The benefit of using this graphic is that it is similar in style to the other six graphics used in the modules.