Trading around the clock and around the world!Written by Jennifer Stewart
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"It was during this period of time that we realized that with growth of Internet and e-commerce, niche marketing on Web would be very limited because of volume of new users and websites being registered," says Freeman. "We could see that one-stop shopping sites would be venue of choice for consumers. Everyone knows that info on search engines is fragmented and biggest complaint one hears is that it takes too long to find anything, with our concept, if you're looking for a golf ball you will have a number of outlets to choose from - our software enables comparisons to be made and best buy found - consumer is big winner."
This view has been supported by recent reports into e-commerce with Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) stating that e-Marketplaces must evolve from today's isolated niche offerings to become highly interconnected one-stop shops - or suffer consequences; and National Retail Federation 2000 Conference in January this year highlighting challenges and opportunities facing online retailers. More than 50% of major retailers are still unable to take online orders, according to findings presented.
This is where programs such as that offered by Freeman shine - entrepreneurs can acquire sophisticated marketplace software or entirely offload building of their Web sites to an experienced e-commerce integrator like aShop4all.com and be at forefront of e-commerce developments.
The Internet has achieved in marketing in just four years, what it took radio forty years and television fourteen years to achieve. Anyone can now be a part of Internet explosion without being an expert, just by becoming an aShop4All partner. Americans spent 57.5 billion minutes online in January 2000 (according to a Media Metrix Top 50 At-Home and At-Work combined Digital Media and Web audience ratings report). The research firm says each person surveyed spent an average of 13.2 hours online during month - that's a captive audience in anyone's language and justifies enthusiasm of business people like Freeman. "A cybermall can be set up for as little as $300 - how many businesses require such a small capital outlay?" he says. "At aShop4All.com, we take care of all details. The entire site is ready to start making money and is continuously updated with new products. It's an ideal way for people to start their e-commerce experience."
The last word belongs to Bill Gates, reported as saying, "By 2002 there will be two types of businesses - those on Net and those out of business."
Jennifer Stewart offers home study tutorials, and professional writing and editing services from her website: http://www.write101.com .Subscribe to free, weekly Writing Tips: mailto:WritingTipsfirstname.lastname@example.org
A Strategic Approach to e-BusinessWritten by Bob MacAvoy
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Personalization is often key to providing an outstanding experience to users of your Web site. As an example, one of our customers developed a first-generation web site that delivered a large volume of basic technical support information on their Web site but failed to impact rapidly growing need for personal support services. The solution was developing a more personalized approach that provides important advantages over traditional technical support. Now, when a customer hits their support site, it now knows who they are, products they own, how long they have owned them, what release they are on, what level of support services they have contracted for, etc. The support site then provides them with a customized interface that addresses their individual needs. For example, it provides status of outstanding service requests and technical bulletins on equipment they own.
It almost goes without saying that it's very risky to rely upon your own perception of your customers' needs. A far more effective approach is to let actual customers evaluate your existing site as well as approach you are considering on a prototype basis so they can express their opinion as to whether it meets their needs. Focus groups and usability studies provide an excellent method to determine without a major investment whether or not your site is easy to navigate, delivers correct brand impressions, contains features and content that your customers are looking for, etc.
Another point to consider is that no matter how good a job you do in developing your strategy, it's going to be outdated in six months. That's why it's so important to develop a flexible, scalable architecture that will allow your system to easily adapt to future. Within a year after your site goes online, there's no doubt competitive landscape will have changed. You may have purchased a company, been acquired, entered new markets, changed your distribution channels, etc. The use of open standards and industry standard tools can contribute to development of architecture with real staying power. Be sure to investigate financial strength and market position of companies that you choose to provide components. Their ability to support you over long term is just as important as value of their technology.
Finally, one critical part of your e-business strategy is use of technology in your company. Are you going to build up your own expertise to maintain your e-business? In that case, you need to develop a programming staff, graphical design studio, editorial staff for content development, etc. The other alternative is to outsource your technology development to a service provider that will maintain your infrastructure and deliver your applications as a hosted service. This approach has advantage of allowing you to focus on your core business operations and outsource technology issues to a specialist. Whichever approach you take, develop a strategy that takes advantage of changes wrought by e-business revolution and your chances of success will be high.
Bob MacAvoy Vice President, Client Services Logical Design Solutions New York, New York