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Integrate e-Business into Your Commerce Plans Get a jump on what's quickly becoming standard operating procedure for any business-using the Internet to conduct ...
Integrate e-Business into Your Commerce Plans Get a jump on what's quickly becoming standard operating procedure for any business-using the Internet to conduct e-business. Increasingly,companies are implementing new Web-based business models to tap previously unattainable markets and earn untold profits. This comprehensive guide uses case studies and practical examples to trace the progress of electronic business through it's short,but vital,history,teaching you how to take advantage of this essential new-economy business practice. Whether your goals include e-tailing,business-to-business,EDI,CRM,or supply chain management,this step-by-step resource can help you create,integrate,and maintain your own successful e-business.
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By taking your business into the Internet's realm, you open your operation up to vistas you would never encounter if you were limited to a shop on Main Street. The benefits to your company are great. If you design and implement your e-business correctly, you will see great advantages in your company's finances and greater speed in getting your products and services to market; you'll also reach new customers; even the tiniest company can seem like a big wheel.
There's one reason to be in a for-profit business: to make money. Whether it's a lemonade stand on the side of the road or a multinational corporation with thousands of employees, the whole reason you want to take your organization to the Internet is to make moneyand lots of it if possible.
If the lessons of the past continue, there is money to be made on the Internet. Take the example of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. Starting with just three Sun workstations and a dream he turned his garage in suburban Seattle into the biggest success story of the Internet. Its success propelled his personal stock to $10.5 billion and made Amazon.com a household name.
Will any other company have that kind of success? Probably not, but it's best to never say never. After you put your company online, your personal wealth may not top $10 billion, but you will most certainly tap into a broad, diverse range ofcustomers.
Businesses know that "there's gold in that thar Web." According to the Wall Street journal, dot coms spent more than $3.1 billion in advertising in 1999. Additionally, Network Solutions tells us that 86 percent of the Internet domain names are registered to companies. This fantastic growth and business presence will continue and mean more money for e-businesses that know what they're doing.
In the past, if you wanted to sell something, you had to rent a storefront, hire employees, stock the shelves, spend a few bucks on advertising, maybe mail out some catalogs, and wait for customers to come in or mail in their order forms. This may sound just fine-after all, that's how business has, conventionally, been done. But with the Internet on your side, the time between developing your product or service and having it ready for the consumer is whittled down considerably.
Now, you needn't wait for catalogs to be printed and shipped to customers, followed by the wait for their mail-order requests to arrive. Naturally, there is a drop in immediacy on the customer's side. After all, once a product is ordered, it has to work through the shipping and handling channels. But that's a problem for future Internet innovators to overcome. In fact, some e-tailers have collocated their warehouses with the post office and Federal Express to cut down on shipping times.
In addition to speed, there's more availability of product than in a conventional store. Let's say you want to buy a boxed set of James Bond DVDs. You could put on your coat, get in your car, drive to the store, and hope to find a set of the DVDs on the shelf. If it isn't your day, they will have sold the last set or-maybe even worse-just have the Roger Moore boxed set in stock. Either way, you're not a happy customer.
Conversely, you could simply log onto a site like Buy.com, find exactly which DVDs you want, type in your credit card, and wait for the package to arrive. Even if Buy.com doesn't have the DVDs in stock, there are more sites out there where you can find what you're looking for-that means you don't have to trudge back to the car and drive to another store in a vain quest.
Expanding Your Reach
Years ago when the hippies started going on and on about "one world" this and "one world" that, it was easy to dismiss them as unbathed weirdoes who liked Grateful Dead music. But now the Internet is doing more to pull the world closer together than all the Hacky Sack tournaments and Earth Days combined ever could.
When customers go to an e-business site, they don't have to physically go to any store. Once they get online, their computer will link to the e-business, where the customer can browse, shop, and make a purchase. This means that physical limitations need not keep anyone away from your company.
For example, let's say you sell Christening gowns for babies and have a shop in San Antonio, Texas. Without the Internet, you depend on customers who walk into your shop and a few call-in orders from word-of-mouth. But the bulk of your sales are reliant on people who actually come in the shop, look at the gowns, and buy one. However, if you decide to put your business online, people from all around the world can look at your stock and decide if you have what they want. Now, a grandmother from Lino Lakes, Minnesota, who needs a Christening gown for her grandson can easily buy from your shop-half a continent away.
Actually, the physical store (if there is one) could be thousands of miles away from the server housing the e-business content, which in turn could be thousands of miles away from the consumer, as is illustrated in Figure 1-4.
As you see, one of the major benefits of the Internet for e-business is bringing your company with its products and services to people anywhere in the world.
Be a Big Shot Even If You're a Pipsqueak
The other benefit of conducting e-business is that the Internet is the great equalizer. Everything comes across to the customer the same way-it comes across on the customer's computer however the company presents it. It doesn't matter if Dale's Elk Meat Emporium is in a tiny little shop in an obscure strip mall and his competition, "Super Mega Meat Mall," is in a giant store right off the interstate. On the Internet, the only thing limiting Dale's presence is himself.
When you are developing a Web site, the only thing that limits your presence is your ability to develop the Web page. To be sure, the big boys will hire big shot consultants, but with a little knowledge, a little effort, and the right software, even Dale can develop a top-notch Web site.
Conventional logic tells us that there's a right way to do something and a wrong way. Up until early 2000, it seemed that in the realm of e-business, there was no wrong way. Every company that went online was successful. Then the bottom dropped out.
For some e-businesspeople and analysts, the change in e-fortune was an omen, a specter that all should fear. For others, the fallout was a natural part of business-a Darwinian effect where the weakest sites were weeded out and only the fittest survived. But now that we have a clearer picture that not every business's online presence will be successful, we can take a look at two examples of e-business in action. The Cinderella story of the e-business world-Amazon.com-will serve as an example of what works on the Internet...