An e-commerce solution for a business is the incorporation of all aspects of the business operation into an electronic format. Many well-established businesses have been selling on-line for years. For example, Dell Computers Corp., has been selling computers directly to end-users for years. Currently, Dell is selling excessive of 1 million dollars worth of computers everyday on the World Wide Web (WWW). When a business has incorporated an e-commerce solution, the business will experience a lower operation cost while at the same time increasing its profit. The e-commerce solution will allow businesses to eliminate unnecessary paperwork. All paperwork and data can be transformed into an electronic format. Thus, it will eliminate valuable shelf space and data can be searched and accessed in matter of seconds. E-commerce will also automates the sales process. Customers can “point & click” on the products they wish to purchase, fill out the customer information, and the product will be shipped and received in a matter of few days. The administration department does not have to fill out any paperwork because the customer had done it already. Thus, the efficiency will be greatly improved. With an e-commerce solution, the business will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.People from anywhere in the world with an Internet access will be able to visit the site at any time. They will not be restricted to the “normal” business operating hours. A “brick + mortar” business is normally limited to serving the customers in its local geographical location. With an e-commerce solution, that business will not be limited a geographical restriction, rather it opens itself to the global on-line market. Essentially, the business’ market exposure will be greatly increased. The Internet is the primary research medium because e-commerce is still a fairly new technology and the Internet will provide the most recent data available. Printed publications will not be able to adapt to changes as fast and efficient as electronic publications. Some e-commerce web sites are E-Commerce Times, eRetail, and eMarketer. The statistical research firms that provide valuable information on E- Commerce are Forrester Research and Jupiter Communication. Both firms provided valuable statistical data that shows the rise of consumers shopping on-line and the predicted dollar amount that will be spent in the coming years.
There are many reasons why every business should incorporate an e-commerce solution into the business operation. One of the first reasons a business would get involved in e-commerce is to establish a presence. There are approximately 70 million people worldwide that have access to the World Wide Web (WWW). No matter what industry or business one is in, one cannot ignore 70 million people. To be part of that on-line community, one would need to be on the WWW to allow access to that industry.
Another very valid reason is to Network. A lot of what passes for business is simply nothing more than making connections with other people. Every smart businessperson knows, it is not what one knows, it is whom one knows. Passing out one’s business card is part of every good meeting, and every businessperson can tell more than one story how a chance meeting turned into the big deal. Well, what if one could pass out the business card to thousands, maybe millions of potential clients and partners, saying this is what I do and if you are ever in need of my services, this is how you can reach me. One can, 24 hours a day, inexpensively and simply, on the WWW.
Many businesses are also using e-commerce to make business information available, but what is basic business information? Think of a yellow pages ad. What are one’s business hours? What does one do? How can someone contact the business? What method of payment does one take? Where is the business located? Now think of a yellow pages ad where one can have instant communication. What is today’s special? Today’s interest rate? Next week’s parking lot sale information? If one could keep one’s customer informed of every reason why they should do business with them; doesn’t one think one could do more business? One can on the WWW, which in itself is another great reason for E-commerce.
Making business information available is one of the most important ways to serve the customers. But if one looks at serving the customer, one will find even more ways to use WWW technology. How about making forms available to pre-qualify for loans, or have one’s staff do a search for that classic jazz record one’s customer is looking for, without tying up one’s staff on the phone to take down the information? Allow the customer to punch in sizes and check it against a database that tells him what color of jacket is available in one’s store? All this can be done, simply and quickly, on the WWW because of E-commerce
To heighten public interest one won’t get Newsweek magazine to write up about one’s local store opening, but one might get them to write up one’s Web Page address if it is something new and interesting. Even if Newsweek would write about one’s local store opening, one would not benefit from someone in a distant city reading about it, unless of course, they were coming to one’s town sometime soon. With Web page information, anybody anywhere who can access the Internet and hears about one’s site is a potential visitor to one’s Web site and a potential customer for one’s information there.
Some businesses use E-commerce to release time sensitive material. What if one’s materials need to be released no earlier than midnight? The quarterly earnings statement, the grand prize winner, the press kit for the much-anticipated film, the merger news? Well, one sent out the materials to the press with “The-do-not-release-before-such-and-such-time” statement and hope for the best. Now the information can be made available at midnight or any time one specifies, with all related materials such as photographs, bios, etc. released at exactly the same time. Imagine the anticipation of “All materials will be made available on our Web site at 12:01 AM”. The scoop goes to those that wait for the information to be posted not the one who releases one’s information early.
Many people believe that selling and buying is one of the most important parts of e-commerce on the Internet. People turn the WWW to research and find the best deals on specific products and services and therefore every merchant is turning to the Internet to broaden their horizons and introduce products to people who may not have such access to those products, or may not even have access to leaving their home. This is another reason why more and more businesses are turning to E-commerce.
Other reasons businesses may use E-commerce may include making pictures, sounds and videos available, reaching highly desirable demographic markets, answering frequently asked questions, opening international markets, creating a 24 hour customer service department, making changing information available quickly, and allowing feedback from customers.
The effects and benefits of incorporating an e-commerce solution to an existing business, it is clear that an e-commerce solution will benefit the business in every aspect. The implementation of an e-commerce solution will generate a brand new revenue stream, expand the market exposure, and decrease the operation cost. Many Fortune 500 companies, such as Dell Computer Corp., have already adapted e-commerce into their business operation. As mentioned earlier, Dell Computer Corp. is currently generating over 1 million dollars in revenues from their web site. Many well-known “brick & mortar” businesses are starting to establish their presence on the web. For example, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, the top book retailer in North America has just launched their web site earlier this year following the success of Amazon.com. Amazon.com, the top book & music seller on the web, has been referred to have one of the most efficient business operations in the world today.
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