The New Marketplace

Some Final Thoughts . . .

Once your site is built, there are a few more considerations, one of which is security. Experts and merchants alike understand that security on the Net is a big consumer concern. With credit card fraud a reality of doing business on the Net, you need to make your customers feel secure. One way: Confirm that your ISP has a secure server installed, says Resnick. Secure servers encrypt consumers' credit card numbers when transmitting them over the Net so users can feel confident about entering them.

Server Digital ID is included in the CMS program. SimpleNet handled the process for Mutton so he could apply for a Digital ID, which authenticates Web sites. This gives consumers confidence that a site's domain name has been verified as belonging to the business representing itself as the operator of the site. Digital IDs also enable encrypted communications between a Web site and its visitors, allowing the exchange of confidential information such as credit card numbers across the Net.

Next, think marketing. No matter how well-designed your site is, it's not going to generate sales unless consumers know about it. One easy way to get the word out is to register with the top search engines or sign up for a service that does this for you. For Mutton, using such a service through SimpleNet substantially increased his number of hits per day--and cost just $40. Change your marketing materials, such as business cards and letterhead, to reflect your new Web address. You may also want to consider renting a direct marketing list of e-mail addresses to jump-start traffic.

Over time, you'll need to find ongoing ways to keep users coming to your site or risk having much of your traffic dwindle. One smart way to maintain traffic levels is to establish long-term link exchanges with other sites. Contact Web sites with similar content and offer to swap links. This ensures a steady stream of visitors to your Web store from a variety of sources.

As with any venture, there are no guarantees for Internet commerce success. However, the key to selling on the Internet is to cover all your bases to give customers the most value. An electronic storefront must offer new products. It must provide convenient order-placing and be marketed to the public. It must be secure. There are many areas on which to focus your attention, but laying the proper groundwork, using professionals when necessary, and being willing to experiment will put you one step ahead of the competition.

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