Importance of Branding for E-Commerce Businesses

E-commerce businesses are becoming a reliable way to buy products online. Branding plays a direct role in improving chances of e-commerce business success. An increasing number of global customers are switching to e-commerce sites to purchase everything from groceries to apparel, and electronics to lifestyle products. The e-commerce industry has completely transformed the way in which consumers around the world access products and services. It has suddenly brought a world of options to the fingertips of end users. The future seems bright for the e-commerce industry, with major players branching out into newer product categories frequently (thus setting the standards for smaller brands).

For e-commerce businesses, things are going well enough, but the competition is also fierce. New e-commerce brands are launching every day and persistently trying to get a foothold online. When it comes to branding, e-commerce companies are leaving no stone unturned. In this scenario, it is vital that you build and implement a high quality branding strategy for your e-commerce business.

Branding Strategies For E-Commerce Businesses

By having a result-oriented, effective branding plan for your e-commerce business, you can stand out amongst your competitors. To achieve that, you must determine what makes your e-commerce business a unique player in the industry. Are you offering high quality products at the best available rates? Do you organize regular discounts and offers for your customers? Are you adding new product categories to meet more customer demands? What are the factors that would convince customers to choose your brand against others? E-commerce business owners must strive to highlight the unique selling points of their brand. Only then can an e-commerce brand be boldly promoted to larger audiences.

As an e-commerce brand, you have to be at the forefront when it comes to attracting product vendors as well as consumers to your e-store. Vendors would be interested in using your marketplace, if it has a strong brand that keeps providing value to customers. The number of sellers and customers you bring in to your network depends on the strength of your e-commerce brand, and how well it delivers on its promises. If you are intelligent in your branding, and consistent in your service quality, your e-commerce brand can achieve considerable success.

E-commerce branding, like all branding, is influencing the perception of your brand and its services, in the eyes of the customer. Effective e-commerce branding will make marketing easier, retain more customers, drive up loyalty, and create better potential value for steady, long-term success.

The way you must approach an e-commerce branding strategy is by highlighting some key points. With branding, you must uphold your business’s core mission, the problems you aim to solve for your customers, standards that it adheres to, and proof of the quality of services you provide. What are the factors involved in business branding and their importance?

E-Commerce Branding – Methods and Importance

1. Your Brand Image - A stellar, uniquely identifiable brand image helps customers attach value to your e-commerce brand’s personality. This includes various things such as logos, banners, taglines, marketing captions, social content etc., which should always represent your brand the best. This is quite important if you want to create value for potential customers and convert them into loyal customers. A good brand image goes a long way in retaining customers, by continually generating interest for your e-commerce brand’s offerings.

2. Customer Satisfaction - Customers are everything, when it comes to e-commerce or any other type of business. You can actually enhance customer experiences and drive up satisfaction (and loyalties). This is a big part of establishing your e-commerce brand. Put your best foot forward while marketing, deliver on your promises you make, and provide unmatched service and support to enhance your brand’s potential value. Remember that satisfied existing customers can and will bring in newer customers to your e-commerce business. Maintain your integrity and keep reinventing to bolster your brand’s chances of business success.

3. Find Your Unique Selling Proposition - As an e-commerce business owner you must determine the USP of your brand. This will help you brand and promote it better to larger groups of potential customers. Think about what sets you apart from dozens of competitors vying for true e-commerce glory. Is it your service quality or support? Is it the trust of your customers and your track record? Do you provide innovative offers, discounts and promotions on special occasions? Do you house the widest variety of rare products? You must determine why customers would choose your e-commerce site. What extra value can you offer to your potential customers that convince them to use your platform again and again? Find your USP and use it to strengthen your brand.

4. Utilize All Channels - Technological advances in the past decade demand that your e-commerce business maximizes its presence on all social, web-based and mobile platforms. More and more potential customers buy and sell through handheld devices, and almost all of them are on social websites. All your competitors are doing it, and so should you. It will help you make your brand easily accessible to larger audiences, which in turn will bring more conversions and significantly better revenues. Social and mobile should be the front and center of your branding strategy.

E-commerce sites can benefit from the above mentioned branding strategies. By using the concepts provide here, you can establish your e-commerce brand and take your business to the next level.

Software Maintenance Implications on Cost and Schedule

Abstract The dictionary defines maintenance as, “The work of keeping something in proper order.” However, this definition does not necessarily fit for software. Software maintenance is different from hardware maintenance because software doesn’t physically wear out, but often gets less useful with age. Software is typically delivered with undiscovered flaws. Therefore, software maintenance is: “The process of modifying existing operational software while leaving its primary functions intact.” Maintenance typically exceeds fifty percent of the systems’ life cycle cost . While software maintenance can be treated as a level of effort activity, there are consequences on quality, functionality, reliability, cost and schedule that can be mitigated through the use of parametric estimation techniques.1. INTRODUCTION One of the greatest challenges facing software engineers is the management of change control. It has been estimated that the cost of change control can be between 40% and 70% of the life cycle costs . Software engineers have hoped that new languages and new process would greatly reduce these numbers; however this has not been the case. Fundamentally this is because software is still delivered with a significant number of defects. Capers Jones estimates that there are about 5 bugs per Function Point created during Development . Watts Humphrey found “… even experienced software engineers normally inject 100 or more defects per KSLOC . Capers Jones says, “A series of studies the defect density of software ranges from 49.5 to 94.5 errors per thousand lines of code .” The purpose of this article is to first review the fundamentals of software maintenance and to present alternative approaches to estimating software maintenance. A key element to note is that development and management decisions made during the development process can significantly affect the developmental cost and the resulting maintenance costs.2. SOFTWARE MAINTENANCE Maintenance activities include all work carried out post-delivery and should be distinguished from block modifications which represent significant design and development effort and supersede a previously released software package. These maintenance activities can be quite diverse, and it helps to identify exactly what post-delivery activities are to be included in an estimate of maintenance effort. Maintenance activities, once defined, may be evaluated in a quite different light than when called simply “maintenance”. Software maintenance is different from hardware maintenance because software doesn’t physically wear out, but software often gets less useful with age and it may be delivered with undiscovered flaws. In addition to the undiscovered flaws, it is common that some number of known defects pass from the development organization to the maintenance group. Accurate estimation of the effort required to maintain delivered software is aided by the decomposition of the overall effort into the various activities that make up the whole process.3. APPROACHING THE MAINTENANCE ISSUE Maintenance is a complicated and structured process. In his textbook, Estimating Software Intensive Systems, Richard Stuzke outlines the typical software maintenance process. It is apparent that the process is more than just writing new code.The following checklist can be used to explore the realism and accuracy of maintenance requirements.o Which pieces of software will be maintained?o How long will the system need to be maintained?o Are you estimating the entire maintenance problem, or just incremental maintenance?o What level of maintenance is required?o Is that which is being called maintenance in fact a new development project?o Who will do the maintenance? Will it be done organically by the original developer? Will there be a separate team? Will there be a separate organization?o Will maintainers be using the same tools used during development? Are any proprietary tools required for maintenance?o How much Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) is there? How tightly coupled are the interfaces?o Some follow-on development may be disguised as maintenance. This will either inflate maintenance figures, or else cause shortfalls if basic maintenance gets pushed aside. These questions will help you ask whether maintenance is being honestly represented.o Is the activity really an incremental improvement?o Are healthy chunks of the original code being rewritten or changed?o Will additional staff be brought in to perform the upgrade?o Is the maintenance effort schedule regular and fairly flat, or does it contain staffing humps that look like new development?4. SANITY CHECKS Although sanity checks should be sought on a year-by-year basis, they should not be attempted for overall development. The reason for this is that maintenance activities can be carried on indefinitely, rendering any life-cycle rules useless. As an example, consider Grady (p. 17):We spend about 2 to 3 times as much effort maintaining and enhancing software as we spend creating new software.This and similar observations apply at an organizational level and higher, but not for a specific project. Any development group with a history will be embroiled in the long tail ends of their many delivered projects, still needing indefinite attention. Here are a few quick sanity checks:o One maintainer can handle about 10,000 lines per year.o Overall life-cycle effort is typically 40% development and 60% maintenance.o Maintenance costs on average are one-sixth of yearly development costs.o Successful systems are usually maintained for 10 to 20 years.Finally, as in development, the amount of code that is new versus modified makes a difference. The effective size, that is, the equivalent effort if all the work were new code, is still the key input for both development and maintenance cost estimation.5. FIVE ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES All software estimation techniques must be able to model the theory and the likely real world result. The real world scenario is that over time, the overlay of changes upon changes makes software increasingly difficult to maintain and thus less useful. Maintenance effort estimation techniques range from the simplistic level of effort method, through more thoughtful analysis and development practice modifications, to the use of parametric models in order to use historical data to project future needs.5.1 Level of Effort As is sometimes the case in the development environment, software maintenance can be modeled as a level of effort activity. Given the repair category activities and the great variance that they show, this approach clearly has deficiencies. In this approach, a level of effort to maintain software is based on size and type.5.2 Level of Effort Plus Stuzke proposed that software maintenance starts with basic level of effort (minimum people needed to have a core competency and then that that basic core staff must be modified by assessing three additional factors; configuration management, quality assurance, and project management. His process addressed some of the additional factors affecting software maintenance.5.3 Maintenance Change Factor Software Cost Estimation with COCOMO II (Boehm 2000) proposes a deceivingly simple, but also quite useful methodology for determining annual maintenance. Maintenance is one of the menu selections in the menu bar. In COCOMO II Maintenance encompasses the process of modifying existing operational software while leaving its primary functions intact. This process excludes:o Major re-design and re-development (more than 50% new code) of a new software product performing substantially the same functions.o Design and development of a sizeable (more than 20% of the source instructions comprising the existing product) interfacing software package which requires relatively little redesigning of the existing product.o Data processing system operations, data entry, and modification of values in the database.The maintenance calculations are heavily based upon the Maintenance Change Factor (MCF) and the Maintenance Adjustment Factor (MAF). The MCF is similar to the Annual change Traffic in COCOMO81, except that maintenance periods other than a year can be used. The resulting maintenance effort estimation formula is the same as the COCOMO II Post Architecture development model.As stated previously, three cost drivers for maintenance differ from development. Those cost drivers are software reliability, modern programming practices, and schedule. COCOMO II assumes that increased investment in software reliability and use of modern programming practices during software development has a strong positive effect upon the maintenance stage.Annual Maintenance Effort = (Annual Change Traffic) * (Original Software Development Effort)The quantity Original Software Development Effort refers to the total effort (person-months or other unit of measure) expended throughout development, even if a multi-year project.The multiplier Annual Change Traffic is the proportion of the overall software to be modified during the year. This is relatively easy to obtain from engineering estimates. Developers often maintain change lists, or have a sense of proportional change to be required even before development is complete.5.4 Managing Software Maintenance Costs by Developmental Techniques and Management Decisions During DevelopmentWhen it comes to maintenance, “a penny spent is a pound saved.” Better development practices (even if more expensive) can significantly reduce maintenance effort, and reduce overall life cycle cost. The more effort put into development, the less required in maintenance. As an example, the software development cost and schedule can be significantly impacted (reduced) by letting the number of defects delivered grow. This cost and schedule reduction is more than offset by the increase in maintenance cost. The following discussion is an example of how management decision can significantly affect/reduce software maintenance costs.Lloyd Huff and George Novak of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in their paper “Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Performance Based Software Sustainment for the F-35 Lightning II” propose a series of development and management decision designed to impact and reduce software maintenance costs. They propose an eight step process to estimate and control software maintenance . Their proposed steps are:1. Strive for Commonality2. Apply Industrial Engineering Practices to Software3. Engage4. Adopt a Holistic Approach to Sustainment5. Develop Highly Maintainable Systems and Software6. Manage the Off-the-Shelf Software7. Plan for the Unexpected8. Analyze and Refine the Software Sustainment Business Case (use Parametric software sustainment cost estimates)5.5 A Parametric Assessment of Software MaintenanceParametric models like SEER for Software allow maintenance to be modeled in either of two ways:Estimating maintenance as a part of the total lifecycle cost. Choosing the appropriate Maintenance category parameters will include an estimate of maintenance effort with the development estimate for the individual software program. Several reports and charts show breakdowns of development vs. maintenance effort. This method is best used to evaluate life cycle costs for each individual software program.Estimating maintenance as a separate activity. Using the appropriate maintenance parameters for the software to be maintained you can model the maintenance effort as a separate activity. This method will allow you to fine tune your maintenance estimate by adjusting parameters. Maintenance size should be the same as development size, but should be entered as all pre-existing code. This method can also be useful in breaking out total project maintenance costs from project development costs.A good parametric estimate for maintenance includes a wide range of information. Critical information for completing a software maintenance estimate is the size or amount of software that will be maintained, the quality of that software, the quality and availability of the documentation, and the type or amount of maintenance that will be done. Many organizations don’t actually estimate maintenance costs; they simply have a budget for software maintenance. In this case, a parametric model should be used to compute how much maintenance can actually be performed with the given budget.Estimating and planning for maintenance are critical activities if the software is required to function properly throughout its expected life. Even with a limited budget, a plan can be made to use the resources available in the most efficient, productive manner. Looking at the diagram above, you can see that not only are the multiple inputs that impact the maintenance, but there are several key outputs that provide the information necessary to plan a successful maintenance effort.6. Conclusion The conclusions of this article are:o Software maintenance can be modeled using a simplistic method like Level of Effort Staffing, but this technique has significant drawbacks.o Software maintenance costs can be significantly affected by management decisions during the developmental process.o Software maintenance can be accurately estimated using parametric processes.o Software maintenance is best modeled when development and management decisions are coupled with parametric cost estimation techniques.REFERENCES [1] Software Maintenance Concepts and Practices (second Edition) by Penny Grubb and Armstrong Takang, World Scientific, 2005.[2] Estimating Software Intensive Systems; Richard Stuzke, 2005, Addison-Wesley.[3] Lloyd Huff, George Novak; Lockheed Martin Aeronautics; Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Performance Based Software Sustainment for the F-35 Lightning II.[4] G. Edward Bryan, “CP-6: Quality and Productivity Measures in the 15-Year Life Cycle of an Operating System,” Software Quality Journal 2, 129-144, June 1993.[5] Software Sizing, Estimation, and Risk Management; Daniel D. Galorath, Michael W. Evans, 2006, Auerbach Publications.

The Morgan Plus Four Super Sports Sports Car

A review of The Morgan Plus Four Super Sports Sports Car, covering development, important features, and technical data of this the fifth model in the Morgan range.In this Article, I offer a nostalgic look at the Morgan Plus Four Super Sports, one of an elite group of classic cars, which was manufactured during the period 1936 to 1950.The creation of the Morgan Plus Four Super Sports is, in essence, down to the skills of Chris Lawrence, whose Morgan Plus 4 was very successful in the 1959 UK Race Season.In 1962, his competition successes came to the notice of Peter Morgan, who offered him Morgan works support.As a result, he won his Class in the 1962 Le Mans 24 hour race.Under the name Lawrencetune, he prepared engines for Morgan when specially ordered.The Lawrencetune Morgan Super Sports used the aluminium low-line bodies prepared specially for Le Mans.However, prior to low-line Super Sport production, a number of hybrid Plus 4′s were produced with the original steel high-line bodies, coupled with aluminium wings, and Lawrencetune engines.These are now a highly sought after models.During the period mid 1950′s to early 1960′s, the Morgan Plus 4 was powered by a series of Triumph TR engines and gearboxes.In 1960, Morgan teamed up with Lawrencetune, who modified the engines of a small number of Plus 4′s which were entered into various endurance events, including the Le Mans.Since it was not unusual for these modified cars to secure at least Class wins, they duly created interest amongst the sports car fraternity to encourage Morgan to produce equivalent modified Plus 4′s.Hence the birth of the Plus 4 Super Sports.In February 1961, Morgan launched the Super Sports which featured:
Specially modified 2138 cc, 4-cylinder Triumph TR2 engine developing 125 bhp at 5500 rpm
Four speed manual gearbox
Gas flowed head
Compression ratio of 9.0:1
Modified camshaft
Balanced crankshaft
Two twin choke Webber 42DCOE carburettors
Special inlet manifold
Four branch exhaust system using two pipes
An oil cooler
Four wheel disc brakes
The two seater Super Sports were produced in one of two body styles – either the high body or low body versions.Early models made use of the high-line bodies from the Plus 4, whilst later models used the low-line bodies from the 4/4.In 1962, a Lawrence tuned Plus 4 secured Morgan’s finest success at Le Mans, where it was a Class winner.As a result, it became the prototype of the Super Sports, which featured a lighter, low-line aluminium body, and a more powerful 125 bhp engine derived from a modified 92 bhp TR2 unit.These cars were distinctive with their bonnet scoop, which was necessary due to the cars’ two twin choke Webber carburettors.During the period 1961 to 1968, a total of 104 Morgan Plus 4′s were modified to achieve the Super Sports specification.Of these, 95 were two seaters built for racing and competitions primarily in the US.Furthermore, 50 of these cars were built as convertibles.With a top speed of nearly 120 mph, they were not only high performance cars, but also well suited to competitions.A unique example of this car was known as the Baby Doll, and was famous in Morgan folklore.It was specially ordered, in early 1962, by Lew Spencer, a Morgan dealer and noted SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) member.This was his personal Morgan race car, in which he subsequently won the 1962 SCCA C Class National Championship.The Baby Doll was renowned for the fact that it regularly beat Corvettes, Porsches, and E-Types, even though it sported a smaller engine than its competitors.It has been suggested that the Plus Four Super Sports offered what was probably the best value performance car on the market at that time.It had precise handling, with a body styling that took one back to the classic cars of the 1930′s.The Super Sports is the most desirable Morgan performance car owing to its competition successes in a number of major international races, combined with its limited production.This marked the end of the Morgan Plus Four Super SportsPerhaps this stroll down memory lane might have answered, or at least shed light on, a possible question:Which Morgan Sports Car is Your Favourite?However, should this question still remain unanswered, I will be reviewing, in some detail, in future articles within this website, the entire range of Morgan sports cars which were featured in the memorable era spanning 1911 to 1996.I hope you join me in my nostalgic travels “down sports car memory lane”.