Trading around the clock and around the world!Written by Jennifer Stewart
US business-to-business e-commerce will hit $2.7 trillion in 2004 and more than 90% of firms interviewed described plans to buy and sell on Internet, according to a recent Forrester Research study.
The study, "e-Marketplaces Boost B2B Trade," reports that B2B growth will be accelerated by development of e-Marketplaces - new models for conducting e-commerce - such as auctions, exchanges, aggregators and bid systems. By 2004, Forrester expects these e-Marketplaces to capture 53% of all online business trade. Hand in hand with this development in B2B, is estimate that Internet sales (business to customer) will top $1.35 trillion in US by year 2003. (Source: Masha E. Geller, MediaPost http://www.mediapost.com )
Many netrepreneurs have already taken steps to hitch their wagon to this rising star and have said goodbye to traditional shop front, and hello to cybermall.
A cybermall can operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can sell to customers in every country in world - if they have an Internet connection. Nielsen/NetRatings figures show that more and more people are connecting to Internet every month - in US, 122.7 million people (aged 2 years and older) had access to Internet in January 2000. This had increased to 123.6 million in first week of March 2000.
With a world population of 6 billion, it's easy to see why businesses are excited by prospect of cybermalls.
Instead of battling with rising costs of rent, staff wages, advertising, packing and shipping, and dealing with problems of tracking down stock and suppliers - this new development in e-commerce allows an individual to set up a complete web-based business in less than 48 hours and receive commissions of 3% to 25% on all sales made from site.
One such cybermall is http://www.aShop4All.com. It aims to offer, "simply best virtual one-stop shop," according to CEO, John Freeman. "We should have completed a women's forum, chat line and a consumer contest by third week of March," he says. This will complement wide range of cyber stores already part of mall. "It's possible for customers to meet all their shopping needs from this one site," says Freeman, "from flowers and gifts, books and games, furniture and clothes to office supplies, financial services and banking, travel arrangements and auctions - there are even employment services at aShop4All.com."
The inspiration for this concept dates back to 1997, when Freeman's company was developing and producing bespoke software and building websites; this was followed by development of software and hardware to upgrade computer systems for Y2K. These products were certified by consultant laboratories to UK Government, State Pentagon and companies such as GEC Marconi.
A Strategic Approach to e-BusinessWritten by Bob MacAvoy
Web technology can be seductive. It is all too easy to install a Web server, generate some flashy graphics and, bingo, you have an electronic version of your core business operations. Unfortunately, successfully transitioning your company to e-business a lot more complicated than that. E-business is not just about developing a Web site but rather changing your business model to adapt to new economy. Simply grafting a snazzy front-end on your current business is unlikely to take full advantage of opportunities offered by e-business revolution and may in fact be a prescription for disaster.
The problem with this approach is that it doesn't address important issue of whether your current business model can be improved to take advantage of new e-business opportunities. For example, suppose you have regional distribution centers across country. Without a doubt, Internet can speed communications between these distribution centers. But that overlooks possibility that Web may make it possible to serve country from far fewer distribution centers or even that you need don't need regional centers at all any more. The nonstrategic approach to e-business also leaves a free path for a new market entrant to develop a more efficient channel structure that blows you out of water.
What you should be doing instead is to first develop a macro level business strategy that provides a road map for adapting your business to era of e-business. Just like developing a business strategy for old economy, your e-business strategy should start by considering your current position in market including strengths and weaknesses, products and distribution channels, challenge posed by competition, new opportunities in market, etc. But at same time you need to consider opportunities and challenges posed by Internet, such as potential to interact directly with customers to streamline distribution channels as well as competitive threat posed by new market entrants leveraging Internet.
The next step is mapping a path to implement that strategy while putting primary emphasis on delivering a positive experience to your customers, channel partners and others with whom you interact. Trying to avoid going down blind alley of making incremental improvements to your existing business. For example, business units, with each targeting specific products and markets, may organize your company. In that case, individual business units are doubtless thinking about how they can optimize their own piece of pie rather than effect of e-business revolution on entire company. Chances are, many of these units may be performing same business processes in slightly different ways. In that case, there are probably serious opportunities of scale across those business units, such as using same technology to perform processes such as sales order processing, inventory or customer service. Taking advantage of these opportunities will require a big-picture perspective that requires involvement of top management to serve as an integrating force.
It's important that your e-business strategy focus not on needs of fiefdoms within your own company but rather on experience of user of your system, whether it's a customer, general partner or employee that is interacting with you. One of most important areas is segmenting your strategy to address individual needs of different users. For example, a human resources Intranet should be subdivided so that employees are able to quickly get information on their benefits and compensation while human resources professionals are able to obtain much more complex information that they need to do their jobs.