The Internet-little known to the general public 10 short years ago-has opened the door to virtually anyone wanting to start their own online business. Ten years from now, many people will be shopping for products and services on the Internet not just through our PCs but through our TVs, telephones, cell phones, PDAs-and yes-even our refrigerators and microwave ovens. We’ll be shopping from our homes, our cars, the grocery store, and the mall using hand-held Internet-based personal shopping agents who will know-even anticipate-our shopping needs. All this and more will open up a vast array of online business opportunities that we can only hint of today-opportunities that one can take advantage of to become a cyber-merchant of the twenty-first century.
So, what’s happening here? And can you still get a piece of the eCommerce pie?
Now that you’ve decided to create on online business, who do you get host it? There are several options-host it yourself, host it at an ISP, or host it at one of the build-it-yourself services on the Web. How do you choose? What do you look for? What are the essentials?
Before charging off to create a new online business, there are a number of steps to perform and eCommerce elements to consider. Knowing this information now-upfront-will help one later when considering where to host their site and what services to expect. Finding the right home for one’s site-one that offers the right eCommerce services-will help one successfully execute their business plan. So, it’s important to know what the eCommerce site essentials are when considering a place to roost. But first things first. Whether one hosts their site themselves,, have it hosted elsewhere, or use one of the build-it-yourself Web-site services, one needs to register a domain name.
Registering a Domain Name
If one is serious about doing business on the Net they need to register a domain name. A domain name represents their company and is URL. For example, Amazon’s domain name is www.amazon.com and Wal-Mart’s domain name is www.walmart.com
But what if one wants to use a domain name that’s already registered? Check out Glenn Sobel’s article at www.domainnameadvisor.com/acquisition.htm. He explains the different ways to acquire a domain name owned by another party. Finally, when choosing a domain name keep it short and memorable. A long domain name with two many letters or with hyphens is hard to remember. Also, make it easy to spell. Lastly, try to choose a name that relates to your core business or business name.
An eBusiness is unlike any kind of business that came before. No matter how sophisticated your offer, your Web store must consider and adhere to some eCommerce basics. According to Foire (2000) there are
3 Cs of eCommerce:
Content Selling one’s product and service in a context that’s relevant to their target audience
Community Creating an online environment in which site visitors and one’s customers can participate and feel a part of
Commerce The actual offers and revenue generating streams of one’s Web site
Delivering the goods
Creating a shopper friendly eCommerce Web site and locating it on a server is a lot of work. But that’s only the beginning. One’s next task is to find and implement the various services needed to quickly and safely make a transaction.
In one way or another one will have to be able to take an order and accept payment for it. The customer must be notified that his or her electronic order was accepted and that your company acknowledges the order. Let’s face it. Without human acknowledgement, customers want to be secure in the fact that after they purchase from you, their order is not floating around somewhere in cyberspace. Your electronic process of taking an order has to give the same warm fuzzy feeling that they would get placing it with a real person.
Finally, you have to protect yourself from those who would try to steal product from you by placing bogus orders or using stolen credit cards. You might have protected your customer’s credit card by using a secure server but that doesn’t protect you from fraudulent credit card use.
Promoting the goods
Making your site visible to the consumer is your first challenge. So the first question you need to ask yourself is, “How will I get consumers to visit my site?” Let’s face it; rising above the din of the Web is a daunting task. But like solving any problem, breaking the
tasks down into small pieces greatly increases the odds for success.
Marketing strategies according to Foire (2000) that can greatly increase the exposure of your Web store and it’s ultimate success are:
i) Search Engine Optimization
Placing your store properly in search engines
ii) Grass-Roots Marketing
iii) Exchanging links and banners with other sites
iv) Registering your Web store with online promotion services
v) Using the Internet newsgroups and discussion lists
vi) Using viral marketing
Thus, the Internet levels the playing field and gives any business of any size-home based or not-the image of a larger company that creates the perception in the potential customer that an online business is credible and able to perform. The Internet gives one the power to compete with established brands giving one not only the opportunity of branding their business-but branding themselves!