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Using TQM and ISO 9000 in eCommerce

by Ron Kurtus (2 July 2000)

A business that is run over the Internet is like any other business when is comes to effective organization, product quality, customer satisfaction and employee relations issues.

The company should follow the Total Quality Management (TQM) philosophies and use the ISO 9000 standards to enhance their chances of success.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Using TQM

TQM is a philosophy of doing business that encourages reducing costs with quality goods and services, customer satisfaction, employee involvement, and measurement of results.

It became popular in the United States in the late 1980s. Some companies employed its methods successfully, while others distorted the ideas and used them to re-engineer their companies. With a booming economy, it is not heard of much these days.

Reducing costs

You don't reduce your costs by cutting corners. Instead, you need to look at your processes to determine where the bottlenecks or inefficiencies may be. Sometimes efforts are duplicated, other activities may not even be necessary, people may not be properly trained for their jobs, or workers may get vague instructions.

Customer satisfaction

The greatest area of complaint in eCommerce is disregard of the customer. Poor support, lack of personal touch, and Web sites that are not user-friendly are examples of disregard of the customer.

The TQM philosophy emphasizes satisfying the customer and giving him or her value for the money paid. Often that value goes beyond simply delivering a product. In may include special services. An important aspect of customer satisfaction is finding out what the customer really wants and expects.

Using ISO 9000

The ISO 9000 standards organize how a business is run so that operations are repeatable and documented. ISO 9000 certification has been required of companies doing business in Europe. Most major companies are certified, although they don't bother to advertise it as they did several years ago.

A company doesn't necessarily have to become certified in ISO 9000, but it is worth while to try to follow the standards, to have your processes and procedures documented. As a company grows, you want to be able to do work the same way instead of becoming disjointed and unpredictable.


Using TQM in any business can reduce costs, reduce employee and supplier problems, and increase repeat and new business.

Using ISO 9000 can result in smoother operations and the ability to find out problem areas easier. It also is very useful in case of an audit of your business.


Businesses involved in eCommerce are wise to employ Total Quality Management (TQM) techniques, as well as follow the ISO 9000 standards.

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