Operational Excellence:



Basing your Web Business on a Solid Foundation


The Elements of E-Commerce

By VeriSign. Used by permission.


Your business may be small-but the Internet lets you think big. Whatever product or service your business offers, the Internet levels the playing field and lets you compete with bigger businesses, reaching customers around the world who can conveniently buy from your online storefront 24 hours a day.

In the competitive world of the Web, growing your business and increasing your profits online requires careful planning and important steps. For every successful e-commerce businesses, there are dozens that fail because they don't address basic risks and pitfalls along the way. So to take full advantage of the e-commerce opportunity, make sure you base your Web business on a solid foundation that covers every element of e-commerce:

  • Establish your identity. The right domain name, or URL, can make the difference between a memorable e-commerce identity and getting lost in the online crowd.

  • Find the right online home. For brick-and-mortar stores, location is everything. Your Web business needs the right home, too. Purchase and set up your own Web server, or find a home for your site with a reputable Internet Service Provider (ISP) or Web host.

  • Build an attractive storefront. With the right tools, creating a Web site is easier than ever-but following some basic guidelines will help make your site easy and fun for customers to navigate. And that means more sales for you.

  • Let customers know they can trust you. In the anonymous world of the Internet, customers will provide you with private information, like credit card or phone numbers, only if they're sure your site is legitimate and the information they send you is protected. Make sure your site is secure-and that your customers know it.

  • Make it easy for customers to pay you. You can set up your site so customers can pay by keying in a credit card number. But how will you process that transaction? Make sure you not only offer customers a variety of convenient payment methods, but that you can process them all reliably.

  • Let the world know about your site. A memorable domain name, a great looking design, and top-notch products and services can make your site successful only if customers know about it. Promote your site to drive traffic to it.

 Case in Point  Amazon.com

Amazon.com is a company that is closely tied with the e-commerce phenomenon. Jeff Bezos, the founder of the company, broke the rules of the book business by using the Internet rather than conventional distribution channels. Based in Seattle, USA, the company has grown from a book seller to a virtual Wall Mart of the Web selling products as diverse as music CDs, software, office products, electronics, toys, games, cookware, hardware, food, and health products. The company has also grown at a tremendous rate with revenue rising from about US$150 million in 1997 to US$5.2 billion in 2003... More