Thursday, February 7, 2008

Is e-commerce for me?

Small businesses run up against the same obstacles on the market as big corporations. They also have to respond quickly to any changes and meet the clients' needs. Big firms can afford expensive promotion and media advertising. For small enterprises e-commerce is nowadays an important development factor. .

One report announced that, according to research carried out in September, an average Briton had spent around 250 pounds on the Internet while the average of all countries polled amounted to 123 pounds. In the USA each consumer spent on shopping the equivalent of 119 pounds. Another good news is, this year more people decide to shop online compared with last year. Shopping is obviously one of the possible options of running business online.


How to recognize if it is the right time to start online activity, too? To find out what goods and services are most frequently offered via the Internet and which are not it will suffice to look through the websites of firms and shops. Selling on the Web has its advantages and limitations. There is nothing new about mail-order sales or remote-order service. The advantage is that firms using the Internet carry out their activity at a low cost. A mail-order bookstore does not have to incur lease related costs of a well situated establishment, neither does it employ staff. A warehouse, if needed, can be located a long way from the city centre, where space related costs are low. You can reach clients from remote areas or even from abroad. As in almost every mail-order system, shipping costs constitute a problem, though. Furthermore, some goods are only advertised rather than sold directly via the Internet, like for instance cars, complex equipment, and machinery. It is also difficult to sell online the goods covered by regulation, e.g. black powder guns. Some chemicals or services including direct contact with the client (massage therapist, plumber and the like) constitute a problem as well. In this case the Internet will remain only a form of advertising, unfortunately, not so efficient as local press since you should not expect someone to come from the far end of the country to buy goods. Certainly it is always worth having a website, although you cannot expect miracles of it.

Taking attractiveness to potential clients into consideration, one can divide online goods and services into two groups. The first one includes these elements which have to compete in terms of price and product range with the offer of traditional stores. The other covers rare goods, not that easily accessible, unique, and intended for a special consumer. Here online sales has a great potential.

Do your customers use the Internet?

It is worth wondering who buys my products and uses my services. Naturally, the majority of people who buy software, computers, and electronic gadgets of all kinds are the potential Internet users, whereas goods for the old may not sell well this way. The same will apply for local market goods. You can always try to expand the target group of consumers by offering also online shopping; however, you should consider the costs that are worth incurring in this case, including both direct ones and labour related ones (updating, introducing new products and the like).

The services that do not require direct contact with the customer are also recommended for online selling, as in case of tourist or financial services,. There is no need to send any products here but for the confirmation of signing the contract via traditional mail. It is worth paying attention to developing services, such as e-consultancy, e-training and the like.

Among frequently bought items are also printer accessories,, basic office equipment, or vacuum paper bags. They can be bought in many places, nevertheless, in an online shop a wide range of products are available round the clock. What is more, the shops which "remember" what their customers bought facilitate further shopping.

We launch e-commerce

Each new way of selling is a challenge for a firm. It is reliability that matters to the client. It is unacceptable that when an order via the Internet is received, there is no assigned person who is going accept it and prepare goods for shipment. First, you should consider the outsourcing of running the website and shop. If you decide to have your own website, it is worth using the services of an expert agency, whose specialists will support us with drawing up a marketing plan or advertising and preparing the visual site identification and competition analysis. A correctly built online shop should as well be able to handle such problems as: how to facilitate the process of placing an order for customers and how to prevent the phenomenon of abandoned shopping carts.

The websites of firms which begin their Internet adventure contain the elements that can negatively influence the way companies run their business. For instance, such firms boast about the producers and distributors they cooperate with by putting names on a site as well as links to their websites. Taking a small company starting its business into account, we show the potential customer where to look for the item which they are interested in (our offer may not prove to be the best).

Good websites certainly bring measurable benefits to firms. They reduce advertising and promotion costs, broaden the group of potential customers, create communities of loyal clients and support brand-building. It would be a pity to give them up.

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