Using the Web for business
EAGLE – Yes, it’s a reality! On-line commerce is now a mainstream shopping alternative for consumers as well as businesses that are interested in buying or selling virtually any product or service you can think of. Regardless of geographical location on this gigantic revolving sphere we reside on, aggressive on-line retailers have built shopping destinations that provide potential customers with useful information, aggressive pricing and speedy product delivery. According to findings published in “The State of Retailing Online 8.0,” an annual report published by http://www.shop.com and Forrester Research, Online retailers saw a 24 percent increase in sales in 2004. Growth through 2005 is projected to achieve another 22 percent.There is no doubt that the retail sector is now a true global marketplace that can provide brick and mortar business owners with great opportunities as well as significant challenges in maintaining local market share and tapping into the this new global Mall of the World.One of my functions as a technology consultant is to work with local business owners to further extend their retail businesses to the Web. I would like to share some knowledge that may help business owners better understand these challenges and opportunities.Online sales will continue to increase: If your retail business is not on line, whether its purpose is to provide product information, facilitate on-line phone sales, or provide a complete on-line commerce system, you are missing out on significant revenue opportunities. It is important to provide as many tools as possible to potential customers to educate them about your product offerings, which enhances sales and ultimately increases the value of your brand.Customer service is more important than pricing! Competitive pricing is extremely important. However, if you can satisfy your customers, they will become long-term and loyal patrons. In addition, they will refer friends, family and business associates leading to a larger customer base. In addition, it is very important to take into account the overall Web site experience you are providing. Visitors should be able to navigate and find relevant information about the products they are interested in purchasing in a logical, intuitive fashion.Implement effective online marketing campaigns and avoid the gimmicks! There are endless numbers of on-line marketing gimmicks out there. Many boast that they can improve your Web site’s positioning to the top of the popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo. These programs are very costly up front and there is no guarantee that your position will increase enough to make a difference. A poorly designed on-line marketing campaign can quickly eat into your profit margins. I highly recommend Google Adwords (www.google.com/ads). It is an extremely cost-efficient option for on-line retailers attempting to grab a piece of the on-line pie. However, before you spend a penny on marketing, define your customer, determine specific keywords they may would use while searching the Web, and most importantly, study what your competition does. You will find that they will provide you with valuable clues and ideas that can be implemented into your own marketing campaign.Steven Sekelik, owner of Interworkz Training and Consulting Inc., can be reached at 376-2233, on the Web at http://www.interworkz.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado
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