E-commerce activity has grown rapidly during 1999 and is set to finally explode in 2000 and 2001. You need to ensure that your business is ready for this incredible opportunity by building a Web store now. This will allow time for you and your employees to learn the necessary new skills and to adapt your business processes.
The initial entrant to a market captures the mindshare of consumers and can prove difficult to dislodge – just look at the mighty Barnes and Noble trying to play “catch up” with Amazon. Even if you aren’t first, you still need to get on line fast to protect your current off line market share being stolen by an on line entrepreneur.
Although large enterprises typically spend a six-figure sum on an e-commerce enabled Web site, you can do it for a lot less. And no matter what you spend, it will be considerably less than the cost of setting up a bricks-and-mortar store.
Dealing with customers via the Web, whether processing orders or fielding support calls is typically cheaper than traditional methods. For example, Dell estimate that they save $8 each time a person checks their order status at their Web site instead of calling them.
Your telephone and fax machine already give you the power to sell globally, but the Web is unique in its ability to allow you to market your products globally.
Although the Internet is moving slowly towards mass consumerism, the median income of the typical Web user is still well above the American average, with 57% of on line households having an income of greater than $50,000, according to AdAge. Your Web store will give you increased access to this desirable demographic segment.
If the nature of your business regularly leaves you with a large, perishable inventory, a Web store can be an ideal way of getting rid off it. For example, American Airlines use their Web store to off load their unsold seat inventory.
The distribution of data and software through the Web has quickly moved from a novelty to an expectation. If you are in the business of selling these “soft” goods you need to start distributing them on line now, or lose out to your competitors.
For years, many large corporations have tried to push their vendors to use EDI but have let their smaller vendors off the hook because of the acknowledged difficulties in setting such systems up. However, using the Internet for e-commerce transactions is much easier than traditional EDI and soon many companies will mandate its use for all dealings with them.
OK, we’ve all heard the saw about how no one’s making money on the Internet. There are some grounds to this as only a small number of Web sites are currently pulling in significant revenues. This is all about to change as the Web finally reach “mass-market” proportions in the United States, with nearly 25% of households forecast by IDC to be on line by the end of 1998. This will allow Web commerce to take off and, at last, there will be a real opportunity to make money.