Join the E-marketplace

Small businesses that plan to sell their products or services online, must consider a range of issues before they start their E-commerce plan.

Some businesses according to their requirements minimize their involvement by joining the e-market place, where another business will purchase their products and sell it for them.  That means, if you have services or products to offer, another business will purchase them from you and sell it for you.

You do not have to worry about your marketing campaign. More buyers you connect to, more business you make. What you have to do is, send your product to the buyer’s destination or provide your service according to the buyer’s requirements.

There are many e-market places having various business strategies. They might act as arbitrators. E-marketplaces offer services such as business directory listings and Electronic catalogues.

Top market places to join are those that tender low cost financial accounting systems and connect with other market places.

 

Happy blogging.

 

Independent e-marketplace

Buyer-oriented e-marketplace

Supplier-oriented e-marketplace

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing to go online

Always we talk about marketing and planning sticky websites. But before you set up an online store of any kind, you need to access internet and obtain a web host. If you are doing serious business you cannot depend on public computers. You have to have your own computer system. There are Internet Service Providers, (ISP) to connect your computer via a cable or telephone line to Internet. Secondly, you need to find a web hosting provider to store the pages of your website for users to access. Your website services depend on the web hosting provider you select. It is very important to do primary research before you choose one.

An Internet Service Provider (ISP) connects your computer to the Internet. ISP provides you with an e-mail address and limited or full features of the Internet depending on the plan you purchase. Some plans are for limited downloads and limited services. Other plans include unlimited access. If you are doing serious business, unlimited access is the best plan you should choose.

Web hosting company that hosts a web site is a ‘web hosting provider’. You can select your ISP to host your website or select a different company to be your web host. Most Internet Service Providers give you limited amount of storage for your files that make up a website. But they do not provide you with necessary e-commerce facilities. You can set up a free website with a free web hosting service such as Free Server. But again you will not be allowed to conduct business on these free websites. They are limited in space and you might be allowed to have only two pages. It is advisable to select a web host carefully. It may depend upon what you really want to do with your website and the facilities your web host allows you according to their different plans. For example, Network Solutions describes the different plans that are available with them. You can select the plan according to your need.

Using web hosting services, you can create you web pages and upload them to your website using your computer. Your website is stored on the server, (web hosts computer) and connected to the internet. FTP is the commonly used protocol for exchanging files over internet. There must be two computers involved, your server (Web host), and your computer (Client). Once connected, you can do a number of operations such as uploading files to the server and downloading from the server including renaming and deleting files using your secure code. A full web hosting service will allow you to use CGI scripts. CGI script is a custom written common gateway Interface used in connection with other computers such as ordering information. Many web hosting services also provide multiple e-mail accounts, Shopping carts and a secure server to handle credit card processing. They also provide you with web page templates so that you can quickly create your own site. Other advantage of having a web hosting service is that you can have access to technical support when you need it.

Some companies with technical and financial resources, host their own website because they need high volume transactions. They also have sufficient staff to maintain their entire system.

E-Commerce Challenges

Although most companies are anxious to develop an e-commerce strategy, they also have to be informed about possible pitfalls. There are both advantages and disadvantages in e-commerce.

Challenges faced by most web developers are creating a website that would keep the customers on the site until they make a purchase. If the Website is difficult to navigate, products are not described well, and Forms are not easy to fill out. Links are broken, pictures take too long to load or have disappeared; harder it would be to keep the customer. A website that keeps the potential customer entertained is called a sticky website.

Although starting involves some expenses, a brick and mortar store will benefit from a user friendly website and the website will gain recognition to the business not only locally, but round the world. It will be open 24 hours a day and every day. Online presence is an advantage for any business to be recognised.

Traditionally many businesses operate as middle men between a business and the consumer. Agents, brokers, and sales representatives are all examples of middlemen. Authority of these middlemen are fast being made obsolete because consumers can go directly to a company’s web site and purchase products and services without help from an agent or other intermediary (disintermediation).

Intermediation is not going to finish yet. While traditional intermediaries are made obsolete, a new kind of cyber intermediaries that could not have existed before the internet has immerged. Cyber intermediaries include auction sites, payment – processing sites, and web site store front services.

When a website displays a Buy it! Button and a customer clicks on the button, credit card information is processed by an online processor company and the vendor pays the processing company a transaction fee. This is a Cyber intermediary


For E-Commerce, There is no world wide standard established yet. From a vendor’s point of view, a website is an advantage to advertise worldwide. A website can reach narrow market segments regardless of location. E-transactions can reduce costs related to processing orders. Internet presence can streamline business operations by incorporating business to business transactions and form virtual communities.

High start up cost is a disadvantage. Difficulty of keeping data current and upgraded can be another disadvantage; this becomes more when there are few available trained employees. E-Commerce transactions are sometimes difficult to combine with current systems. Language barriers might cause difficulty in doing transactions. Government tax regulations are different from country to country, and it always is confusing. Identifying a world wide standard is the main solution to these problems.

Here we go for an ISP

A web site offers more advantages over other modes of marketing. You can change contents very easily and quickly without spending much money. Printing catalogues are more expensive. You can easily provide your customer with more information of your product or service through a website. You will be targeting your market all over the world and at the same time tracking your competitors. Through a website you can easily track results of your marketing efforts and decide what method is appropriate for your business the most. Your business can be open 24hours a day and 7 days a week. You can build and enhance your customer loyalty through a website more than you do otherwise.

Before setting up a web site think about your business and consider the types of customers you get. Do you really need a website? Do not go for a website because everybody tends to. Just think and sometimes you will be well off as a simple villager than a townsman. Some businesses do not really need a website.

There are number of ways to do business online as I have stated in my previous articles. You can use low cost methods of advertising such as e-mails, forums, free article submissions, setting up an auto responding service and so on. You can use an affiliate marketing program and register as a vendor. This is a very effective method of marketing your business via an army of affiliates and you are not given the facility to track your visitors. Best thing is you can use this free web space as yet another way of advertising your business.

Best way to successfully sell online, is to sign up with a web hosting service that provides site storage, shopping cart and various other services you can benefit from. You can find such web hosts from $9 and onwards according to services and space they provide.

Search for web hosting services to find the most suitable service for you. Investigate and inquire about rates, years in business the different modem rates they support, security features and all other services they perform. If you are going to sell products, see if the service provider offers features like electronic ordering. Do they provide daily reports and also customer feed backs.

This is the preliminary set up for your online selling. Design your website in a way that your visitors can easily navigate. Online selling will start afterwards. Here we go again.

Instant Messaging

MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Messenger, Skype and many other types of instant messenger tools have now become a powerful productivity enhancing tools for many enterprises. In a few years time these instant messaging tools will be used by employees and enterprises more than e-mails as a base of communication via Internet. Of course most of these messengers are free of charge.

Benefit of using messengers over e-mails is that your e-mail can be ignored by the recipient while instant messages take place in real time. They offer real time monitoring and participants can see who is online and who is away from the desk whether you are communicating internally or internationally.

There is no effective way of preventing spam e-mails, instant messaging tools allow users to customise their preferences and accept messages only from contacts. Sending and receiving messages take place in real time and also only after the recipient at the other end has agreed to receive the file. You can send files in a similar way to e-mail attachments here.

You can hold conferences over the web no matter where ever your contacts are. Instant messengers allow you to communicate using voice and video. You can invite your business contacts to participate in discussions at a set time and you will experience the real value of it. Conferencing this way is cheaper and very effective. This will save your telephone and travel costs.

These instant messages can be a wonderful tool for employees in a workplace. They can swap messages; ask questions in a collaborative team environment which is more effective than e-mail messaging.

The disadvantage is; one instant messenger is not compatible with the other. A better way of performing is downloading all of this software and using them with your contacts preference. You will find almost all of your contacts do the same. But in an office environment it is different. In an office environment one such software is used. These are ideal for small enterprises than a corporate environment. With the use of instant messaging, there is a possibility of transmitting viruses. It is advisable to ensure your virus protection software is up to date and overall security measures are taken and improved to work with your messenger tool. Yahoo! Messenger has advanced features such as encryption of messages, control of user access and advanced logging and archiving features.

When you use these tools you have to be careful that you do not provide your important information to anybody via instant messengers. Never include you credit card information, bank details and any passwords in your messages. Do not give any of your personal information that you do not wish the public to know. Choose a user name to identify yourself. Always customise your settings to accept messages only from your contacts. Keep your messages pleasant, short and to the point. Never use messengers for big decisions and agreements. If you are in business, always start your instant messaging software when you start your computer and set it as “busy” or “away” when you are not able to respond to messages.

Software like Yahoo! Messenger can be used by outsourcing businesses and freelancing. If you are a freelancer; you can talk with your client and set your working hours. If you are charging for the hours worked, Yahoo! Messenger can indicate the hours and your client can monitor you working on his or her project at a given time. If you tell your client, “I will be working on your project at this time of the day”. They know your hours worked is correct and you can develop their trust.

It is advisable send big decisions, important agreements and sensitive information via Fax, e-mails and letters than instant messaging.

Improve your sales by link building-2

In my previous article I have written about getting SEO by Linking with other sites.
This is the second part of the article describing how you should use your links.

Look at media sites and start your campaign there.

Lot of people visit media sites looking for information – get coverage and link to your site. You will get good traffic to your site plus a percentage of that audience linking to your site because the media site did. This is what I say, (links attract links).

Now you have identified your market sector and a list of 100 link targets, Start with the high profile portals. Go to them and see if they have a ‘submit an article’ page. If they do make sure you use it. It is an easy and valuable way to get coverage and links to your site. Look for reporter bylines and look for contact details. Many sites will publish guidelines on how to submit a release. Remember you should write articles in the specific product range that you are planning to sell.

Issue an online press release.

Media site is almost one to one approach where personal contact is essential. You can have one-to-many approaches by issuing an online press release. This way you submit your release to a newswire and they distribute your news to thousands of journalists and editors on their database. This is a very effective method. sourcewire.com is one such media site.

Include your signature as a link to your site.

This is a very powerful method of getting traffic to your site if you can write a really good article. People will be interested in the person who wrote this article. Curiosity will make them click the link and come to your site. Signature should include your name and description including your company name.

Using non media sites

Huge percentage of your links is covered by media sites. These methods are for the left over target links. Non media sites will only link to you if you have been mentioned by an editorial site they respect. Many of these sites may give you one way links, while others will ask for a link back. It makes sense to agree if you are asking the top sites, because links from them is very important to you. Include them in your content, write a short article about them, even recommend them if you have something useful to offer your visitors.

Monitor and evaluate.

Monitoring and evaluating is not simply a matter of counting how many links you manage to get. What is really worth measuring is the benefit those links bring to your business.

At least you should measure:
How much increased traffic comes from links?
Which link brings most traffic?
How much your search engine rank (search engine traffic)
How much your sales increase as a result.

Try this method and analyze your results. Then try other sites that you categorized as less priority. And you can check submitting articles on freelancing sites that is less important. You might get a click here or there that is worth a try.

Offer a free e-book.

Write an e-book on specific product ranges, usefulness and anything that can be related to the product. Include your links on them. Include not only your links but links to other sites as well. You can offer this e-book free to your readers on condition that they use the book only on free distribution and no change in links. Especially ask your other site owners which you have included links in your book, weather they would like to distribute the book as well. They will agree if there are link to them as well. This is also a very effective method. But you really must write the book on specific product range and focusing on specific target audience who will be willing to download the e-book and read reviews on products before they buy. This method is particularly easy to approach other site owners because they too will benefit from your book.

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Safeguard your company’s network

Take control of your businesses identity management and don’t let the identity of your users remain a mystery.

Today with the increasing demand for work being done on time, lot of companies have a network system, which can be accessed from anywhere. Most CIOs have head aches being called on to prove that they know what their users are up to simply due to lack of control procedure to manage identities. If safety measures are not taken at appropriate levels, sensitive information can go out and may cause even bankruptcy. That is why identity management (IDM) is an essential part of risk prevention in your business.

Your business might want to give certain access to your employees, contractors and customers at any where at any time. Yet even with the trusted employees can break regulatory compliance rules if the correct approvals aren’t sought. It is really important that your network must be well secured.

Your Accounting system or Account’s information should only be accessed by people in the Accounting department and not by the sales department or contractors. Even within your accounting department if there are several people working in one department, each person must have a secure ID and no other person should be able to access that information.

For example I know a company who did not manage their secure server system. There Design department had real problems with people accessing other peoples work and changing them, and even putting their names on other peoples designs. Imagine what this might cause in the production department, and material wastage that might occur when people try to access others information and nobody is going to be responsible for a mistake. This can lead to employee dissatisfaction and feel less responsible and later if this leaks out, the company may loose their clients.

Setting up a proper IDM can benefit your business in reducing your costs and boosting your productivity. First understand the employees and their work area in your business. Next step is to secure management information found in the various sources. Both these steps require you to build and enforce standard policy models within your business.

Automate the process of accessing information by letting each person to self register to access data. This reduces your cost of password setting and recovering fees. Then you can breath easily, your information flow is well designed. Each end describes the process smoothly. You can face the auditors with ease and why not even take a holiday.