By Nowshade Kabir
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 downturn 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 online?
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
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 this too!
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
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
However, for real time transactions you will still need
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, Bigstep, etc.
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
There should be a way of saving items for future purchases.
Shipping and other costs should be clearly stated before the
check out process starts.
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
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 States.
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,
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.
Choosing a Winning Business Idea
Here are six tips to help you choose a winning business idea. However, before you decide what business you'd like to start, be sure to research it carefully. Knowing upfront how big the market is, who your competitors are and what your competitors are offering will help you avoid costly mistakes.
Does Your Small Business Really Need a Website?
Before you spend any money on a Web site ask yourself these questions. The answers will help you understand first, if you need a Web site, and second, how a site can enhance your business.
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shows you how to cure each of these faulty recipes underneath each listing.