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No Pain, All Gain

Still don't have a Web site? That doesn't mean you can't join the digital economy.

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This story appears in the April 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

If you want an easy way to market to Internet customers but have neither the energy to put up a do-

it-yourself electronic storefront nor the cash to pay consultants, all hope isn't lost: New Web-based marketplaces are cropping up with the aim of serving as a meeting ground for small businesses and consumers. Used wisely, these low-cost services may be the vehicle you need to get your products onto the information superhighway.

How do such services work? One example, Respond.com, which is funded in part by onetime Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale, is a site where customers can name their own prices for items in more than 3,000 categories. The process is simple: A buyer logs on, expresses interest in a product and names the price he or she wants to pay. As customer requests come in, they're distributed through to participating entrepreneurs, who can then decide whether to respond, ignore or counter-offer.

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