Does Your Business Have an E-Commerce Strategy?
Act now to avoid being left behind in the "new industrial revolution."
E-commerce is the fastest growing area of industry in the world. The online marketplace is developing so rapidly that an Internet presence will soon become the norm for businesses in the United Kingdom, as it is in the USA. There are currently around 250,000 British commercial domains (addresses ending in "co.uk") with up to 20,000 more being added every month. Soon, businesses that are not online will be at a serious competitive disadvantage.
A Growing Industry
Some estimates suggest that over 170 million people worldwide now use the Internet. The World Wide Web is growing at a rate of 15% per month, and every day 45 thousand people go online for the first time. Over seven million people in the U.K. now use the Net regularly, and personal computers are currently outselling televisions.
With a potential marketplace of this scale, there are enormous opportunities for those small and medium-sized enterprises that can embrace e-commerce.
The implications for all businesses, large or small, are clear - develop and implement an e-commerce strategy soon, or risk being left behind.
Benefits of Being Online
For SMEs there are particular benefits from being online. These include having the opportunity to reach a wide geographical area and a large target market for relatively low costs, and being "open for business" 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Business-to-business e-commerce is already reasonably well developed in the U.K., but business-to-customer / client trading is fast catching up and research shows that Britain is increasingly becoming a nation of technophiles. However, if a business wishes to reap some of the benefits of e-commerce, it is not enough simply to go online. As with any other marketing activity, the quantity an quality of your returns depends upon the quantity and quality of your investment.
Perhaps the most important element of your e-commerce strategy will be your web site, which, if well-designed, can be used to achieve a number of objectives:
To sell products and services online
To provide key customer services online
To provide up-to-the-minute information on your products and services
To provide post-sales support
To prospect for new customers/clients
To stay ahead of the competition
To enhance the reputation of your business
To improve firm and brand awareness
There is a wealth of information on the Internet aimed at helping businesses develop e-commerce strategies - simply typing "e-commerce" into a search engine will provide a vast range of options. The development of the online marketplace represents a great opportunity for small businesses. Make sure that your business