- Avoid Common Dotcom Mistakes
- Target Market
- E-Commerce Tips & Tactics
This is it--your chance to strike it very rich because suddenly, the internet has changed all the rules. For a half-century, the big players in business, from IBM to Exxon, dominated the game, leaving little room for newcomers to move to the top of the heap. Then in 1994 a little startup named Netscape introduced a web browser, and the race for cash was on. Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, 1-800-Flowers, drugstore.com, Priceline.com, WebMd.com--today, they are million-, and in some cases billion-dollar businesses, but where were they ten years ago? Out of nowhere these companies, and hundreds more, have emerged to challenge the gods of commerce. They're succeeding because the new rules favor small companies that are flexible, smart, tough and ultra-quick to react to changing market conditions.
Chew on these numbers: E-business research firm IDC expects the total worldwide value of goods and services purchased by businesses through e-commerce solutions will increase to $4.3 trillion by 2005 from $282 billion in 2000. By 2007, total online retail spending will reach $105.2 billion, up from the $51.7 billion consumers were expected to spend by the end of 2003. And in the 2002 Christmas shopping season, consumers spent $7.92 billion online, a 23 percent increase over the 2001 holiday season, according to e-commerce research firm BizRate.com.
The web is both a new distribution channel and a new way of doing business. Don't miss either part of that statement. Think of the web only as a new channel--a different way of putting products and services in front of customers--and you miss the threat and the promise of the Internet, which is that it will utterly change how you do business.
Reasons to Dotcom
Need convincing that the Web is the place for your business to be? Here are 10 reasons why you have to be online:
- It's cheap. There is no more inexpensive way to open a business than to launch a web site. While you could spend up to many millions of dollars to get started, low-budget web sites (started with as little as $100) remain viable businesses.
- You cut your order fulfillment costs. Handling orders by phone is expensive. Ditto for mail orders. There's no more efficient--cheap, fast, accurate--way to process orders than via a web site.
- Your catalog is always current. A print catalog can cost big bucks, and nobody wants to order a reprint just to change one price or to correct a few typos. A Web site can be updated in minutes.
- High printing and mailing costs are history. Your customers can download any information you want them to have from your web site. Sure, you'll still want to print some materials, but lots can be distributed via the web.
- You cut staffing costs. A web site can be a low-manpower operation.
- You can stay open 24 hours daily. And you'll still get your sleep because your site will be open even when your eyes are closed.
- You're in front of a global audience. Watch your site log, and you'll see visitors streaming in from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia--wherever there are computers and phone lines.
- There are no city permits and no hassles. It could change, but in most parts of the country, small web businesses can be run without permits and with little government involvement. As you expand and add employees, you'll start to bump into laws and regulations, but it's certainly nice to be able to kick off a business without first filling out reams of city and state forms.
- There are no angry customers in your face. You can't ignore unhappy customers in any business; in fact, how well you deliver customer service will go far toward determining how successful you are. But at least with a web business you'll never have to stand eyeball-to-eyeball with a screamer.
- It's easy to get your message out. Between your web site and your smart use of e-mail, you'll have complete control over when and how your message goes out. You can't beat a web site for its immediacy, and when a site is done well, it's hard to top its ability to grab and hold the attention of potential customers.