E-commerce business benefits

by Allery Scotts Ltd

Staggering predictions abound over where the Internet is going. For example, radio took 38 years to get to 50 million users. PCs took 16 years to get to 50 million. TV took 13 years. But the Internet took four years.

With around 130 million users worldwide, and a new one being added at the rate of around one every second of every hour in every day, growth is unprecedented. And sitting on top of the Internet is e-commerce, the fastest growing part of the world economy.

E-commerce is about doing business electronically. As well as selling and marketing over the Internet this includes

E-commerce has been around for many years in the form of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), but it is the Internet that is bringing it to the fore. The Internet offers outstanding opportunities to do things differently. And because of the low cost of setting up global reach, small businesses can compete with their large company competitors for the first time.

What does e-commerce offer? 

For the small business that is prepared to change e-commerce represents an impressive set of opportunities. The more you use your imagination, the more you can create something that people will pay for and/or will save you money.

E-commerce is an enabler. Being enabled is about removing restrictions that we have (consciously or unconsciously) had to accept in the past.

Done properly, it will bring real competitive advantage over other businesses - small and large. This is especially true where the business focuses on a niche and does it well. Its impact on some fields of business may be relatively gradual, but there are none that will remain untouched.

E-commerce in action

Example

Opportunity

Amazon sells books over the Internet at prices usually lower than high street booksellers

If you sell your product from a shop front, work out how to replace the shop front with the Internet. Support that with low cost distribution.

Hullachan Pro now sells dancing shoes globally over the Internet, quoting significant increases in volume of sales.

Do you have a specialist product where demand per square mile is very low, but globally would be very respectable indeed?

An agency for contract workers now receives CVs by e-mail so it can put them straight into the computer, cutting out the work of scanning or retyping. 

Are any of your staff retyping or scanning? Get the information electronically to start with.

Want to know where your parcel is? If it is going by FedEx then go to its website to find out. This has reduced the number of calls and automated the process.

Do customers ring you up to find out status information? Save costs and provide a 24-hour service by allowing them to find out the answer via the Internet.

Eagle Star sells insurance over the Internet. It has taken out the cost of brokers and the staff who filled in computer forms for the customer.

Do you have a product where the cost of sale is significant and where customers ring up to buy it? Could they connect to the Internet and buy automatically? (But always give them the option of talking to a real person as well.)

Want to manage your bank account? Use online banking to move money about, pay bills etc. In effect the bank is letting you, the customer, do what the teller was paid to do before.

When dealing with customers, does anyone at your company enter information on their behalf - could customers do it themselves? They won't all do it, but if a significant number do you can save staff time.

Allery Scotts are Internet consultants. A longer version of this feature, and many others, appears on their e-business website.

Reviewed January 2011

last updated : 21/01/2011



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