Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Farce to Force, Building Profitable E-Commerce Strategies

A Review of “Farce to Force Building Profitable E-Commerce Strategies”
by Sarah McCue

Why did I select “Farce to Force”?

I think that the one thing that I would most like to take away from my time in e-commerce is a good structure for evaluating technological advancements so that I can help an organization to see the ways they can incorporate the technology into their business model. When I researched books for this project, this particular book stood out because of its focus on business strategy in the e-commerce environment. By reading this book I hoped to gain some insight into the strategies and processes that have been successful in the e-marketplace in the past.

What is the Book About?

The 5 C’s of
Successful Sites
“these components are Clarity, Content, Convenience, Commerce, and Customer Commitment”“Farce to Force” is a book that discusses what it takes to be successful in e-commerce. McCue Starts by discussing the facts and myths about e-commerce. She uses this section to detail the ways that businesses overlook important factors in the e-commerce environment. Her point is that businesses are not building profitable e-commerce sites because they are not taking the time to understand what their customers really want and expect in a website. This lack of understanding is at the root of notorious websites that offered products like dog food for sale over the internet.

Because the internet is young in its development, it is not as clearly structured as the physical environment. This lack of clarity makes it essential for business owners to have a clearly defined strategy. McCue walks her readers through the development of an e-commerce strategy. The most useful development tool is the “Five C’s of Successful Sites”. These components are clarity, content, convenience, commerce, and customer commitment.

What is the General Book Type?

“It spells out reasonable and strategic steps”“Farce to Force” is an informative book that seeks to enlighten readers about the key components to conducting business on the internet. The format of the book leads readers through a process of informing, showing failures, showing successes, and comparing the differences in success and failure. The differences are condensed into strategy and the Five C’s. I have found this book to be similar to books like “Good to Great” in that it spells out some reasonable and strategic steps that can be followed to give organizations a greater opportunity to be successful in their internet endeavors. It is similar to books like “Implementing E-Commerce Strategies: A Guide to Corporate Success after the Dot.Com Bust” by Marc J. Epstein or “B2B: How to Build a Profitable E Commerce Strategy” by Michael J. Cunningham. These books all work to convey a process by which business people can recognize the key elements of an e-commerce strategy that are necessary to be successful. In many ways these books are like texts on e-commerce.

The author of “Farce to Force” Dr. Sarah McCue served in the Regan Administration in the office of the US trade Ombudsman and in the US Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development program. According to her BluMail profile she has served as an advisor to the UN and World Back on small business, export development, and technology as well as women’s issues. She advocates for the use of technology to provide communication, commerce, education, etc… around the world.

“Farce to Force” supports Dr. McCue’s work to advocate for a growth in the use of technology around the world. By helping people to understand how to successfully develop an e-commerce strategy she is opening the door to entrepreneurs all around the globe to access this new and developing business tool. It helps her business audience to see what works and does not work without having to experience the pain of failure for themselves. I appreciate it when people give me the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others because lets face it I don’t have the time to make all the same mistakes myself if I want to be successful. As a result the main value this book provides is a sort of road map to e-commerce. I’m sure it is not fool proof, but it gives its readers a framework to apply so that they are prepared for the elements of e-commerce that are unlike the typical business environment.

This book is strong in the way it showcases myths about the internet, and develops strategies that businesses can apply for a successful internet endeavor. It is weak in that there are some concepts that are repeated multiple times in the book. I do not know if this was done intentionally to reinforce the importance of the concept, but the repetition was distracting to me. Additionally, like any other book on e-commerce, it will be out of date very soon. There are elements of internet communication present now that were not available at the time this book was published. As time moves forward and innovation continues we will continue to have the same problem of obsolescence.


I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to have a greater understanding of the environment of e-commerce, and the ways the internet can be harnesses to supply a competitive advantage for business. Although there are new technologies every day, the concepts and strategies shared in “Farce to Force” will be timeless. The five C’s of Clarity, Content, Convenience, Commerce, and Customer Commitment will be useful no matter where technology takes us.


  1. This sounds like a great book for clarity on e-commerce. I think that this would be a good book in order to clearly flesh out what are the five C's. Based on your recommendation it would also be a great book to apply to just general marketing.

  2. This sounds like a book I would enjoy reading. It seems to have a good amount of clarity and detail in explaining the five C's. Since I am a marketing major I believe this book would be especially applicable for me. Good write up.

  3. As a person that is in sales and also wants to stay on top of some of the latest technolgies and strategies, this sounds like a book I should read.

  4. Hi Gary, a colleague sent me your write-up on Farce to Force that I enjoyed very much. Guilty as charged about how I repeat myself throughout the book -- intended to reinforce key points viz various examples and concepts. Good luck in all you do. Best regards, Sarah McCue

  5. The 5 C's ~ Clarity, Content, Convenience, Commerce, and Customer Commitment ~ are really important I think. Too often, I think that businesses are just concerned about the technology and forget that the point of the website it to connect with customers.