Old Meets New in the Web Store Business PlanWritten by David Johnson
E-commerce may be revolutionizing way world does business, but it shouldn’t change your approach to writing a business plan. Whether you’re starting a Web store from scratch or taking an existing outfit online, basic elements of your business plan will be no different from a traditional small-business plan.
Those basic elements, according to Small Business Administration, are a description of business, a marketing plan, a management plan and a financial plan. Consider each element in context of a Web store and you’ll develop a business plan that can’t lose. Here are some tips to get you started:
Business Description Define products and services you’ll be selling online and evaluate your strengths against online and offline competition. Describe your Web store content — information on your site that merchandises your product or service. Exactly what kind of content do you expect to provide, and how will it relate to your product or service?
Marketing Plan Clearly define your target customers, and define advertising and sales plans required to reach them. As you formulate your marketing strategy, consider online surfing and shopping habits — as well as general usability concerns — of your customer base. For example, what Internet technologies (browser brands and versions, connection speeds, etc.) do your customers probably use? Do they want community features, such as message boards and live chat? Are they open to “push” marketing, such as e-mail promotions and newsletters? (Find out more by visiting www.workz.com/attract/home.asp.)
Selling - Blending E-Commerce and Store Front SalesWritten by John Warzecha
There seems to be misguided suggestion that e-commerce, buying or selling on Internet, will very soon surpass regular means of retail such as department stores. Nothing could be further from truth. The e-commerce industry should check out number of people that wander through shopping malls on weekends. Is a company like J.C. Penny, Zellers or Wal-Mart closing their doors and meekly walking off into sunset? No- they are expanding, rebuilding, renovating and opening new outlets in an attempt to maintain and expand their customer base. Internet marketers must do same thing. Even though electronic medium is gaining increasing importance, and there are some very impressive numbers being put up, there is still a major concern about such things as transferring credit information and dealing with an impersonal operator attached to some keyboard across world. Not every business can have a retail outlet, because some businesses are only amenable to on-line sales, but those that do have a retail outlet, should not only be involved in directly marketing their products through their web sites, but sites should be constructed so that buyers who want to see product will go their outlets first. Many people want to see products in front of them. They want to see them, compare them to other products, perhaps see how look beside other items, especially if they are outfitting an office. They may even want to do a little haggling which is difficult to do on-line. For example, if you have an Internet site where you sell computers and also a retail outlet, you must be prepared to deal, not only with customer who is willing to buy on-line, but also customer who wants to go and kick tires-so to speak. Provided that techno-babble has been kept to a minimum, an individual, after checking web-site, will come to you with his initial request. Now that number that has been recorded as a hit on your web site is someone standing in front of you. He wouldn't be there unless web-site had done an initial selling job. He is there to buy. This is where true selling begins. As I discussed in previous articles- this is opportunity to learn something about customer. Some of best sales individuals I know have a tremendous capacity to ask questions and then shut up and listen. They know who they are talking to; know what they what, and they have learned this by listening after asking some questions. You now have that same opportunity While you are finding out what he wants, you must also discover his hot buttons. You must assess his needs, but more importantly, listen to what he wants. It has been the