Section IV Small Business Marketing Strategies
most likely to buy them and not wasting resources trying to sell to thosewho have no interest in gardening.
The capacity to track customers’ Web-based shopping habits allowscompanies to personalize their approaches to marketing and to realize the benefits of individualized (or one-to-one) marketing.
Entrepreneurs who set up shop on the Web will likely never meet their customers face-to-face or even talk to them.
Making a Web-based marketing approach succeed requires a business to strikea balance, creating an e-commerce strategy that capitalizes on the strengths of the Web while meeting customers’ expectations of convenience and service.
In this fast-paced world of e-commerce, size no longer matters as much as speedand flexibility do.
One of the Web’s greatest strengths is its interactive nature, the ability to provide companies with instantaneous customer feedback, giving them theopportunity to learn and to make necessary adjustments.
Businesses, whatever their size, that are willing to experiment with differentapproaches to reaching customers and are quick to learn and adapt will growand prosper; those that cannot will fall by the wayside.
High-volume, low-margin, commodity products are best suited for selling on theWeb.
Indeed, the items purchased most often online are travel services, computer hardware, clothing, books, and consumer electronics.
However, companies can—and do—sell practically anything over the Web,from antiques and pharmaceuticals to popcorn and drug-free urine.
The most commonly cited reasons among owners of small and mid-sizedcompanies for taking their companies to the Web are:
to reach new customers
to sell goods and services
to disseminate information more quickly
to keep up with competitors
to reach global markets
The number of Internet users worldwide now stands at more than 500 million, upfrom 147 million at the end of 1998.
See Figure 13.1.
The Web represents a tremendous opportunity that businesses simply cannotafford to ignore.Benefits of Selling on the Web
Although a Web-based sales strategy does not guarantee success, the companies thathave pioneered Web-based selling have realized many benefits, including the following:
The opportunity to increase revenues
The ability to expand their reach into global markets
The ability to remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week
The capacity to use the Web’s interactive nature to enhance customer service
The power to educate and to inform
The ability to lower the cost of doing business