IntroductionBack to Top
So youre thinking of putting a
store on the World Wide Web (WWW or "the Web").
Whether youre Web-savvy or techno-phobic, you can
use this guide as a planning tool for your new venture.
Your business requirements and available resources
will help determine the time it will take to put a
profitable site on the Web. But, with this guide in hand,
you will have basic, proven tenets that have guided other
merchants like yourself to growth and success in
Who Should Read This Guide?
This is written for
small to medium sized,
businesstoconsumer merchants who sell hard
goods or services. Within these parameters, there are two types of
merchants who will benefit most from this guide:
Existing merchants looking to
explore a new sales channel, the Web.
Potential merchants evaluating
the Web as a primary sales channel.
Dog, Old Tricks
Doing business on the Web has been
compared to taking a new dog and teaching it the same old
tricks. In other words, the same marketing concepts that
have worked in a bricksandmortar store still
apply in a new "virtual" store. Human nature
does not change just because the customer is shopping via
computer. In fact, the forces that motivate customers to
purchase your goods in a physical store are the same
forces that motivate customers when they shop on the Web.
Furthermore, doing business on the Web
requires merchants to provide at least the same service
to their customers as they expect in a
bricksandmortar store. In fact, because there
is no direct contact with a store employee and because of
the immediate nature of the Web, some customers will
expect service to be even more responsive on the Web. As
with a physical store, superior customer service through
your Web store can be a distinguishing factor that will
increase customer loyalty to your store and products.
Merchant A purchased
excess inventory of squirt guns at the end of the
summer for a greatly reduced price. He then proceeded
to try to sell them at full price throughout the
winter on the Web. In the spring, after having no
success with his Web sales venture, Merchant A sold
his squirt guns at cost to Merchant B. Merchant B
immediately put the squirt guns for sale on his Web
site and sold out within a month.Did Merchant B know something
that Merchant A did not? No. Common marketing sense
would discourage most merchants from trying to sell
squirt guns in the winter. As this true story shows,
the same rules applied to sales on the Internet.
While this guide contains the framework
for opening a store on the Web, dont be constrained
by its recommendations. Used creatively and effectively,
the Web and todays information systems technologies
offer merchants unique opportunities to test and track
new ideasideas that can lead to increased sales and
the Development of a Virtual Store
Your business requirements,
financial and information systems resources, and
experience with the Web will help determine the steps
necessary for you to implement a store on the Web. Things
to consider include:
Store ComplexityAverage. Merchant has an existing,
printed catalog, or merchandise could easily be put into
a standard format or list.
does not fall into standard format, requires extensive
graphics, is highly customized, etc.
Comfort level maneuvering on
Experience level designing
for the Web.
Relationship with a Web
Relationship with Internet
Service Provider (ISP).
You Ready?Back to Top
This is a self-evaluation of readiness
for opening an on-line store. It may also serve as
measurement of the potential degree of success based upon
market data and Data Pro's merchant experience,
although using this evaluation in this manner does not
guarantee results. This evaluation is also not intended
to be the only form of self-evaluation, but rather, used
in conjunction with other forms of coaching, counseling,
guidance and advice.
This evaluation assumes that the user has
some primary or secondary introductory-level experience
with the Web and willing to wait up to six months before
determining the degree of success (or failure) of the