With all these dot com failures so rampant, you may question, is it still viable
to consider an online venture? The truth is: while spectacular rise and fall
of many dot com companies have been overly publicized, sales through Internet
are still increasing by 20 – 25% each year. Even economic down turn of the recent
years has not hampered this growth.
According to an annual study of Internet trends by marketing research firm
Ipsos, almost two third of Internet users in the United States have by now purchased
a product or service online. That’s a dramatic increase from only 36 percents
of respondents in 2000. Studies show that more than 35.5 million U.S. Internet
users made shopping trips to web shops during the week ending November 3, 2002,
which is roughly 14 million more than almost the same time period in 2001.
While the hype over the new economy is maybe over, one thing is for sure that
Internet has revolutionized the way we do business and positioned itself as
one of the biggest and most unique sales channels. Many companies, finally,
started to realize that their very existence may get jeopardized if they are
slow in integrating Internet to their business model.
But the question still remains - is there any effective method of doing business
Below I have outlined some components crucial to any online venture. While
these might not be the only vital components of web based business, understanding
them correctly will significantly improve your chance of doing online business
Business plans are like road maps. Imagine, you ended up in a unfamiliar town
and you have to find an address without a map! How would you feel? Definitely,
you would have been much better off with a map of the locality! The same thing
goes for business plan. Though, many successful ventures may have been started
without the benefit of a formal business plan, a good business plan improves
your chances of success and help you avoid many mistakes.
A recent AT&T study of successful entrepreneurs shows that businesses are
more successful if they have a written business plan than the ones which don’t.
With a written business plan you get a better picture of your planned venture.
So, before starting you online venture, take some time and write down what are
you planning to do.
Product or Service
If you are a brick and mortar company merely trying to expand sales of your
products or services on the Internet your task is easier! You at least don’t
have to mull over what to sell. But, what an entrepreneur who decided to start
a new venture should sell on the Internet?
Actually, you can sell virtually any product or service through the Internet.
You may say, "Wait a second, you can’t sell big ticket items over the net,
right?" Wrong! The car and part industries alone forecast to generate US$
274 billion in revenues from online trade by 2004. There are incidents of consumers
buying corporate jets online!
If you are serious about starting an online business, finding a product or
service that suits you should not be very difficult.
Knowledge base products like e-books, how-to-reports and hard to find information
and data sell quite well on the Internet.
Drop-ship items are bountiful on the Internet.
Thanks to global reach of Internet finding manufacturer for any item that you
plan to import to your country or export from your country became lot easier.
If you have expertise, online services similar to web design, travel arrangement
etc. are also good sales.
Internet users are paying readily for various types of online contents. Global
online content market will add up to 50 billion US$ in 2003. You can consider
Website/ Web store
Since you customers take their decision, whether to do business with you or
not based on what they see on your site, it is critical to have a professional-looking
website with good related content.
You can choose your website according to your need from a vast range of choices.
Starting from a completely free website you can shell out thousands of dollars
for a decent e-commerce website. The choice is yours!
There are various quality portals that allow you to have products and services
displayed on a single page web site for free. Many business to business portals
provide with this kind of services. However, for real time transactions you
will still need e-commerce web stores.
If you are not good at design or don’t want to spend a fortune on you web store,
you should think about getting an e-commerce stores from web enablers like Yahoo,
For a nominal monthly fee you can have the facilities required to run a full
fledged electronic storefront and build it yourselves from easy to use templates.
If you go for this type of services, compare and see who has most of the features
for lesser price. Some business to business portals along with your e-business
web store will furnish you with necessary features to carry out over the Internet
many important parts of buy and sale processes.
The integral part of e-commerce sites, which allows you to accept product purchase
orders for multiple products or services, is called a shopping cart.
The term "Shopping Cart"is taken from real life shopping terminology
to help users understand the actions available to them. Like in a supermarket
a user can add products to shopping cart, remove products from the cart or adjust
the quantity of the products as per requirement before checking out and making
While looking for shopping carts for your e-commerce store, you should consider
the following aspects of a powerful and functional shopping cart:
Access to the shopping cart should be clearly visible. There should be several
entry points to the cart.
Add, remove and adjust quantity of the product features should be prominent
on the cart page.
The item name should have a link to the description of the product.
There should be a way of saving items for future purchases.
Shipping and other costs should be clearly stated before the check out process
Order forms should be simple and clear.
All payment options should be explained clearly.
Ordering process should be done through secure server. You know you are on a
secure server when the URL of your browser indicates "https:". The
s at the end of http stands for "secure".
90 percents of all online retail sales take place through credit card transactions.
According to industry statistics, the average credit card sale is $40 versus
just $9 for the average cash sale. To offer the credit card payment option to
your online clients, you need to set up a merchant account-a bank authorized
account established by your company to receive the proceeds of credit card purchases.
Even if you already accept credit cards for your offline transactions, that
may not be enough. Although, you can take many precautions to reduce online
credit card frauds, credit card companies still consider Internet transactions
to be riskier than offline transactions. That’s why finding a right merchant
account provider could be a little bit more complicated than you might think.
Things could be even trickier if your business is located outside of the United
There are many middleman merchant account providers on the Internet. Do some
comparison-shopping before you sign up with any of them as conditions that they
offer vary significantly.
Although, it is definitely good to have a merchant account that does not mean
you can’t sell products or services without having one! There are numerous other
payment options available on the Internet. Most popular of them are paypal,
e-gold, e-bullion, etc.
If you would like to have an effective online business, remember that old values
still count. Proper planning, uncompromising customer service, integrity, hard
work and persistence eventually will make your business successful.