Reset goals as needed. E-commerce has to focus on more than just the single sale. Unlike bricks-and-mortar outlets, customers can "leave" with a single click of a browser button. Therefore, customer service has played a crucial role in differentiating online retailers. Providing a successful customer experience requires more than merely making products available online. Online retailers must also focus on details such as site usability that will continue to deliver on the value proposition.

Redefine the competition. Competing on price can only go so far. The online channel allows retailers to introduce new products and address new customers in ways that would be expensive and difficult through other channels. Clothing retailer American Eagle, for example -- which has a presence both on- and offline -- also owns the 77Kids brand which sells children's clothing exclusively online.

Respect the technology department. Rarely do companies think about the technology team that builds and maintains the e-commerce systems. Technology is critical to enabling the features that give online retail its advantage over the bricks-and-mortar experience, such as rich Internet and mobile applications and purchasing without having to provide credit-card information. According to Mulpuru, Web retailers spend 7 percent of revenue on technology. In the overall retail sector, that figure is 2 percent; in all other industries, 3 percent.

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