With all these dot-com failures so rampant, you might be wondering, is it still viable to consider an online business? The truth is, while the dramatic rise and fall of many dot-com companies has received far too much publicity, Internet sales continue to increase by 20-25% each year. Even the economic crisis of recent years has not hampered this growth.
According to an annual study of Internet trends by market research firm Ipsos, nearly two-thirds of Internet users in the United States have already purchased a product or service online. This is a spectacular increase from just 36 percent of respondents in 2000. Studies show that more than 35.5 million US Internet users made shopping trips to web stores during the week ending November 3, 2002, which is roughly 14 million more than nearly the same time period. in 2001.
While the uproar over the new economy may be over, one thing is for sure that the Internet has revolutionized the way we do business and positioned itself as one of the largest and most unique sales channels. Many companies have finally started to realize that their very existence can be compromised if they delay in integrating the Internet into their business model.
But the question remains: is there an effective method for doing business online?
Here are some crucial components for any online business. While these may not be the only vital components of web-based business, understanding them correctly will significantly improve your chances of doing business online effectively.
Business plans are like road maps. Imagine, you ended up in an unfamiliar city and you have to find an address without a map! How would you feel? Definitely, you would have done much better with a map of the town! The same goes for the business plan. Although many successful businesses may have been started without the benefit of a formal business plan, a good business plan improves your chances of success and helps you avoid many mistakes.
A recent AT&T study of successful entrepreneurs shows that companies are more successful if they have a written business plan than those that do not. With a written business plan, you will get a better picture of your planned business. So before you start your online adventure, take some time and write down what you plan to do.
Product or service
If you are a brick and mortar company simply trying to expand the sales of your products or services on the Internet, your task is easier! At least you don’t have to think about what to sell. But what should an entrepreneur who decided to embark on a new adventure sell on the Internet?
In fact, you can sell just about any product or service over the Internet. You can say, “Wait a second, you can’t sell expensive items online, right?” Incorrect! The auto and parts industries alone forecast to generate $ 274 billion in revenue from online commerce for 2004. There are incidents of consumers buying corporate jets online!
If you really want to start an online business, finding a product or service that suits you shouldn’t be very difficult.
Knowledge base products, such as e-books, how-to reports, and hard-to-find information and data, sell quite well on the Internet.
Drop shipping items are plentiful on the internet.
Thanks to the global reach of the Internet search manufacturer for any item you plan to import into your country or export from your country, it became much easier.
If you have experience, online services similar to web design, travel organization, etc. They are also good sales.
Internet users are easily paying for various types of content online. The global online content market will add up to US $ 50 billion in 2003. You can consider this too!
Website / web shop
Since your customers make their decision, whether to do business with you or not based on what they see on your site, having a professional-looking website with good related content is critical.
You can choose your website according to your needs from a wide range of options. Starting with a completely free website, you can shell out thousands of dollars for a decent ecommerce website. The choice is yours!
There are several quality portals that allow you to have products and services displayed on a single page website for free. Many business-to-business portals offer these types of services. However, for real-time transactions, you will still need ecommerce web stores.
If you are not good at design or do not want to spend a fortune on your web store, you should consider getting ecommerce stores from web enablers like Yahoo, Bigstep, etc.
For a nominal monthly fee, you can have the facilities to run a complete electronic storefront and build it yourself from easy-to-use templates.
If you opt for these types of services, shop around and see who has the most features for the lowest price. Some business-to-business portals in conjunction with your e-commerce web store will provide you with the necessary functions to carry out many important parts of the buying and selling processes over the Internet.
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 the shopping cart, remove products from the cart, or adjust the quantity of products according to requirements before paying and making payments.
When looking for shopping carts for your ecommerce store, you should consider the following aspects of a powerful and functional shopping cart:
Access to the shopping cart must be clearly visible. There must be multiple entry points to the cart.
Adding, removing, and adjusting the quantity of product features should be prominent on the cart page.
The item name should have a link to the product description.
There should be a way to save items for future purchases.
Shipping and other costs must be clearly stated before the checkout process begins.
Order forms should be simple and clear.
All payment options must be clearly explained.
The order process must be done through a secure server. You know you are on a secure server when your browser’s URL indicates “https:”. The s at the end of http means “secure”.
90 percent of all online retail sales are made through credit card transactions. Based on 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 customers, you need to set up a merchant account, an authorized bank account established by your business to receive the proceeds from 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 fraud, credit card companies still consider Internet transactions to be riskier than offline transactions. That’s why finding a suitable merchant account provider might be a bit more complicated than you think. Things could be even more complicated if your business is located outside of the United States.
There are many intermediary merchant account providers on the Internet. Do some comparative shopping before signing up with any of them, as the terms they offer vary significantly.
However, it is definitely good to have a merchant account, which does not mean that you cannot sell products or services without having one. There are many other payment options available on the Internet. The most popular are paypal, e-gold, e-bullion, etc.
If you want to run an effective online business, remember that old values still count. Proper planning, uncompromising customer service, integrity, hard work, and perseverance will eventually make your business successful.