From the August 1997 issue of Entrepreneur

The web's usefulness keeps growing--and fast. The latest proof is how easy it's made locating Federal Express and UPS packages as they travel the globe. To find any package you've sent or are waiting for, just go to http://www.fedex.com enter the tracking number, and within seconds you'll know its location and disposition. UPS makes this process still more convenient by integrating its package checking into the main page of search engines InfoSeek http://www.infoseek.com and Lycos http://www.lycos.com

Talking Shop

Software for setting up shop on the Web just keeps getting easier to use. A case in point: Microrim's Submit This! (under $75), which includes interactive forms for making sales and credit card transactions on your Web site. Establishing an online business with Submit This! is as simple as editing and uploading a few templates to a Web server. To find out more about Submit This!, visit Microrim's Web site at http://www.microrim.com

A step up in power is the Peachtree Business Internet Suite (about $50), a turnkey program designed to get a business on the Web in a matter of hours. Included are many templates for Web-page designs--just fill in the blanks and you're ready to go online. This software also includes data encryption for secure transfer of credit card information. A plus of the Peachtree Business Internet Suite is that if you already use Peachtree's accounting software, the Internet Suite will automatically transfer transaction data into it. More details are available at http:www.peachtree.com

For a quantum leap higher in power, check out Lotus' Domino.Merchant (http:www.lotus.com) software designed to create online storefronts as big as your imagination. Despite its muscle, Domino.Merchant still stresses useability with the aim of getting you online with minimal programming hassles. Encryption, credit card transactions and customer feedback forms are all included. Offering tools that meet the needs of the most ambitious storefronts, Domino.Merchant is not software for novices but for cyber merchants who have outgrown entry-level programs. Pricing (about $1,300) is highly competitive; programs with comparable power usually sell for several times as much.

Exchange Rate

Want to build traffic to your Web site by advertising on other sites but don't have a budget for Web advertising? Join a link exchange--a program that puts your banner ad on other sites in return for placing banners of other exchange members on yours. Leaders in this cyber bartering are LinkExchange http://www.linkexchange.com and SmartClicks Banner Advertising http://www.smartclicks.com Participation is free--the exchanges support themselves by selling ads on their sites--and you can belong to multiple programs. Generally, for every two visitors to your site (two views of the exchanged banner), your banner will appear on another member's site, with a new banner appearing in rotation every time a site is visited.

The exchanges screen out adult-oriented sites from their memberships and also give members some say in the types of sites their banners will appear on, such as business-oriented. For Web sites seeing little action, link exchanges can send some visitors your way.

Building Blocks

Tired of waiting for the world to beat the proverbial path to your better mousetrap? Find out the how-to of commercializing an invention with a visit to Invention Management On-Line http://www.adlenterprises.com a site operated by the respected Arthur D. Little (ADL) think tank in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The site gives inventors the skinny on marketplace realities and pro- vides forms for submitting patented inventions for consideration by ADL.

There are no fees for these services. If ADL decides to help bring your product to market, its compensation is usually a percentage of licensing revenues.

To contact Robert McGarvey, visit his Web site at http://www.members.aol.com/rjmcgarvey/