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Identifying E-Commerce oppor­tuni­ties

There are a wide range of existing e-commerce models and new oppor­tuni­ti­es are constantly evolving. By un­der­stan­ding the more common models, you will be in a better position to identify possible op­por­tuni­ties within your own business.

Direct sales

The most common model is the transac­ti­onal one, where the e-commerce facility is used for the direct selling of goods or services online. For some businesses such as those selling software or music, the actual sale and the delivery of the goods can be made online. However, for most the supply of goods will continue to require a physical delivery.

If you are planning to take the transac­ti­onal route, you may need to rethink some of your business processes. This is because you will fun­da­men­tal­ly change the way in which you interact with your customers. These changes will occur right across the business, including in:

  • marketing
  • pre-sales advice and support
  • invoicing and payments
  • deliveries and returns

Pre-sales

This model involves using your website for pre-sales activities - exploiting the widespread use of the Internet to generate sales leads. At its most basic this can be through the use of "broc­hu­rewa­re" - having an online version of your promotional materials on your site. Other options include email campaigns or advertising online on other websites, both designed to attract visitors to your own website where you can promote your products.

Post-sales support

The third model uses the Internet to automate aspects of your customer support in order to reduce the number of routine customer service calls. This can be achieved by using your site to make answers available to the most frequently asked questions, or by putting technical information online.

Whichever model you choose, it is important to define your expectations from the outset. What level of sales are you hoping to make? How many sales leads are you looking to generate? What percentage reduction in customer telephone calls are you expecting to achieve? Ensure that targets are put in place so that you can measure the success, or otherwise, of your e-commerce facility.