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By Taholo Kami for UNESCO
Disclaimer: These materials have been produced with support from UNESCO.
The author is responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts in
the materials and for the opinions expressed therein which are not
necessaril! those of UNESCO and do not commit the Or"ani#ation
eCommerce – A Web Presence for your business!
Taholo Kami (email@example.com)
What is ecommerce?
ecommerce is enabling or achieving your business objectives by using information technology to
enhance or transform your business processes.
commerce inclu!es business to business ("#")$ cutting costs in transactions bet%een
businesses an!& business to consumer ("#C)$ sales of goo!s an! ser'ices. commerce is carrie!
out on the (nternet an! has become the 'ehicle !ri'ing the )henomenal gro%th of the (nternet
(t is im)ortant to kee) in min! that the (nternet is a me!ium for communications %ith your
customer. (t !oes *+T e,em)t or e,clu!e the nee! for goo! business strategy. A goo! business
me!ium %hether it be the (nternet& tele'ision or )rinte! me!ia must communicate 'alue to your
This is not an attem)t to co'er all areas of ecommerce but to )ro'i!e a generic gui!e for Pacific
-.s to%ar!s establishing an effecti'e ecommerce online )resence.
1. Business Plan
/o not start %ithout a business )lan. 0n!erstan! your )ro!uct& your market& com)etition&
obstacles& cost of effecti'e !eli'ery an! a time frame for im)lementation.
• Determine Your Objectives
What !o you %ish to achie'e %ith a %eb site1 (s it to enhance a%areness of your com)any
bran!2s& sell goo!s online& )ro'i!e customer su))ort or !e'elo) an! sell an electronic )ro!uct.
3our ob4ecti'es %ill !etermine your a))roach to ecommerce
• Understand your Market
5ocal access is currently limite! to less the #6 of the )o)ulation in Pacific (slan! countries. This
limits the effecti'eness of the (nternet for local usage. The o'erseas market is the imme!iate
o))ortunity. (t is im)ortant to un!erstan! the intricacies of your market. A category such as
han!icrafts 2 gifts can a))eal to e,)atriate Pacific (slan!ers& collectors& bargain hunters or u))er
e,otic art collectors. (!entify your key markets an! tailor your %eb strategy to reach them
3our )ro!uct coul! be ser'ices (tourism)& electronic (soft%are) or selling artifacts or gifts 'ia a
%eb store. 0n!erstan!ing the market !etermines ho% you )ackage& )resent an! )rice your
)ro!uct. /istance an! isolation of the Pacific islan!s means i!eal )ro!ucts shoul! be )ortable an!
relati'ely ine,)ensi'e to !eli'er. Consi!er the 'alue instant communications an! global reach
a!!s to your )ro!uct. 7or some the (nternet may not offer a!!e! 'alue for your )ro!uct.
8A50 to the customer is still bottom line& so a'oi! false e,)ectations that the (nternet is an
o))ortunity to !eli'er at inflate! )rices or the illusion that there is a )ot of gol! on the en! of
your (nternet connection.
2. Domain Name
3our !omain name (%%%.yoursite.com) is your calling car! on the %eb. Choose a !omain name
that is easy to remember. 9eneric !omain names (.com .net .org .edu .info .biz) can be registere!
for 0-:;< 2 year at %%%.net%orksolutions.com or numerous other sites such as %%%.enom. (f
you fin! that your )referre! !omain has been taken& check other !omain ser'ices such as .nu
(*iue)& .t' (Tu'alu)& .to (Tonga) at tonic.to. 3our %eb hosting ser'ice %ill register your !omain
name as )art of their ser'ices if you !eci!e to look for a hosting ser'ice at the same time.
3. Hosting Your Web site
+nce you ha'e !eci!e! on your !omain name& you nee! to host your %eb )ages on the (nternet.
There are thousan!s of (nternet -er'ice Pro'i!ers ((-Ps) that offer hosting. =ost your ser'ice
%here your clientele or target au!ience %ill ha'e the fastest access an! you can guarantee the >u)
time? (reliability of ser'ice). (t is usually )ractical to host your site on an o'erseas ser'er.
=osting costs 'ary %ith the amount of s)ace (megabytes)& traffic (ho% busy your site is measure!
in 9igabytes )er month) an! e,tra ser'ices (number of email a!!resses& ecommerce tools& site
management tools& etc.). ;@A#<@mb of s)ace on a 0- base! ser'er (com)uter) %ill cost
a))ro,imately :B< – <@ )er month !e)en!ing on your choice ser'ices. commerce ser'ices such
as sho))ing cart& secure transaction form an! cre!it car! )rocessing %ill cost more.
With a cre!it car! one can usually register a host account %ithin B< minutes an! ha'e your
!omain name an! host %orking %ithin ; !ays.
Beware: All (-Ps claim to )ro'i!e great su))ort but fe% !eli'er satisfactory su))ort ser'ices.
Check 'arious ser'ice o)tions at htt)C22%ebser'ices.cnet.com2html2aisles2WebD=osting.as) or
other sites that rank host ser'ices.
4. Design and Develoment
/esign an! content of your %eb site must be aime! at communicating %ith your customers.
-)ee! of access& logical na'igation an! attracti'e look an! feel are key ob4ecti'es. +ften fancy
gra)hics %ill result in slo% !o%nloa! times an! result in im)atient customers mo'ing a%ay. 3our
%ebsite is the only im)ression the customer has of your com)any or organiEation. .ake sure they
can see )rofessionalism imme!iately. 3our %eb site shoul! be !esigne! accor!ing to your
customer e,)ectations. While a tra'el 2 tourism site is e,)ecte! to ha'e lots of flashy )ictures this
may not be necessary for a aca!emic %eb site or a %eb !irectory. A %ebsite %ith too much
gra)hics %ill frustrate those looking for Fuick information by increasing !o%nloa! time of the
+utsourcing your %eb !esign may be the choice if you !esire a )rofessional look right from the
start. 7or small com)anies& if you choose to out source your %eb !esign& insist on full access to
the %eb site once it is launche! an! training on ho% to make basic changes. g. Announcements
on the front )age or changing )ro!uct )rices.
!. "anaging #ontent
.any -.s (-mall businesses) rush to im)lement an online )resence %ithout consi!ering the
%ork in'ol'e! %ith kee)ing content fresh an! useful. Too often a %ebsite is literally >tacke! on?
as an a!!itional task %ithout consi!ering the effort nee!e! to u)!ate an! maintain content. 0nless
a %ebsite is seen as essential for the future of your business it is )robably not %orth !oing. An
effecti'e strategy inclu!es the costs an! )rocess of integrating your %eb )resence %ith your
e'ery!ay business )rocesses. This %ill ensure that information remains fresh an! rele'ant an!
enables your organiEation to a!a)t to meet the !eman!s of your online customer.
As the site gets busier& interaction %ith customers an! or!er )rocessing can take some serious
staffing time. 7or some this is a goo! )roblem to ha'e but be realistic an! bu!get for em)loyee
time at all le'els of your %eb site !e'elo)ment.
$. %lectronic &ransactions
The key ob4ecti'e of selling is to !eli'er a )ro!uct an! recei'e )ayment. The challenge for many
small com)anies is being able to make online transactions for cre!it car!s. 0sually this can be
!one by ca)turing necessary cre!it car! !etails 'ia a secure %eb then manually in)utting to your
local merchant account in !aily batches. The )rocess can be automate! %ith cre!it car!s 'erifie!
online an! )ayment imme!iately cre!ite! to your account.
7or small businesses %ithout merchant accounts there are online sites that )ro'i!e merchant
account ser'ices as %ell as cre!it car! )rocessing for a monthly fee an! in!i'i!ual transaction
charge. The %ebsites %%%.itransact.com an! %%%.iescro%.com are e,am)les of transactions
*e% ser'ices ha'e !e'elo)e! that no% enable transactions 'ia email. "y o)ening an account %ith
these ser'ices you are able to arrange for them to recei'e fun!s on your behalf an! then they )ay
it !irectly into your o%n account. A great e,am)le of this is foun! at %%%.)ay)al.com. There are
se'eral other ser'ices so fin! the one that suits your nee!s.
/istance is the key obstacle %ith selling online from the Pacific (slan!s. /eli'ery of electronic
)ro!ucts (soft%are) can be transferre! instantly an! certain ser'ices can be )ro'i!e! to !istant
customers. =o%e'er %ith )hysical goo!s there are se'eral issues to be consi!ere!. ,)ectations
of many consumers ha'e been forme! aroun! the o'ernight !eli'ery ser'ices a'ailable in
!e'elo)e! country markets. Customers must be ma!e a%are that !eli'ery of your )ro!uct %ill
take BA ; %eeks. Costs are also higher then normal an! %ill affect your final )rice. 9uarantees of
Fuality an! !eli'ery times are im)ortant to o'ercome initial misgi'ings of ser'ice from ne%
/eli'ery of a Tourism >)ro!uct? is more !ifficult. nsure your )ro!uct is as goo! as your online
marketing s)in. With careful marketing you can attract the right kin! of 'isitor to a eco tourism
resort %ithout running %ater or electricity %ho %ill en4oy an! a))reciate the facilities. Gust make
sure they e,)ect it or you %ill ha'e a crisis situation.
). "ar*eting (our +ebsite, -nline and -../line
The key to a successful ecommerce %ebsite is effecti'ely reaching your target market %ith
ser'ices that they )ercei'e offer 'alue. 9etting online users to 'isit your %ebsite %ill !e)en! on
your ability to raise a%areness amongst )otential customers. This can be !one %ith a goo! online
A*/ offAline strategy.
• 5ist your link %ith key sites rele'ant to your target market. +nline linkages from
other %eb sites are the most effecti'e means of bringing )eo)le to your site. A
regional tra'el site %ill %ant to be linke! from all key Pacific (slan! sites. .
• Pay for a!'ertising on sections of )o)ular %ebsites 'isite! by your target clientele.
• Place your site on search engines an! )ortal sites such as 3ahoo.com& 9oogle.com&
alta'ista.com an! others – *+TC Hemember that search engines ha'e )eo)le %ho
are constantly !e'elo)ing metho!s to )re'ent others like you from >cheating? by
biasing there ranking criteria to )lace your site. Criteria constantly changes. The best
bet is to ensure you ha'e a goo! set of key %or!s in your meta !ata an! you are
linke! an! recogniEe! by as many other sites as )ossible. Hecognition %ill come the
better your site is.
• (nclu!e your 0H5 (%eb a!!ress) on A55 stationary of the firm
• 0tiliEe con'entional me!ia through targete! )ress releases
• Place )rint a!'ertisements in aroriate me!ia.
• 0tiliEe tra!e sho%s& tra'el agents an! other means to )ubliciEe your 0H5 o'erseas
The recent !emise or fall of the >!ot com? e commerce com)anies in the 0-A an! uro)e is not
an in!icator of the lack of )otential of e commerce in the Pacific (slan!s. The e commerce bubble
burst because basic business )rinci)les %ere not a))lie! to the ne% i!eas an! in'estors )ro'i!e!
fun!ing s)eculating )rofits %ithout consi!ering the real 'alue of the )ro!uct to the consumer. The
imme!iate )otential in the Pacific for e commerce is the ability to communicate %ith o'erseas
consumers or businesses an! !e'elo) this communications into a transaction.
Pacific (slan! tourism has seen the imme!iate benefits of the (nternet %ith a large )ercentage of
tra'elers using the (nternet to fin! islan! !estinations an! make their bookings. The challenge is
ho% to tailor the Pacific e,)erience into )ro!ucts %hich %e kno% may ha'e niche markets aroun!
the globe an! then !e'elo) a strategy to reach the market. The (nternet )ro'i!es o))ortunities
here that %ere not a'ailable to the small o)erator in the )ast. co tourism in the most remote )arts
of the Pacific no% has access to a more cost effecti'e marketing me!ium.
7i4ian crafts com)any& -an!ollars recei'e! recognition %hen some of their )ro!ucts %ere
inclu!e! in the gift )acks )ro'i!e! to celebrities at the Aca!emy a%ar!s (+scars) in California.
The e,)osure to that market %as through their %eb site. ,)osure for Pacific (slan! arts an!
crafts& music an! other selecte! )ro!ucts are i!eal for the (nternet.
The )otential for ecommerce to o)en ne% o))ortunities for o'erseas markets is unlimite!. The
challenge is for our 9o'ernments to recogniEe telecommunications infrastructure as an essential
ser'ice. Affor!able (nternet access is necessary to buil! local human ca)acity an! enable small
businesses to )artici)ate effecti'ely on the %eb. 5ocal businesses nee! to un!erstan! the )otential
of ha'ing I@@ million users on the (nternet an! %hat that coul! mean for selling their )ro!uct.
7inally& (tJs early !ays in terms of ecommerce in the Pacific islan!s region. This )ro'i!es
o))ortunities for -.s to test an! establish a com)etiti'e ecommerce )resence. "e creati'e an!
ha'e fun in the )rocess A starting to!ay begins the learning )rocess.
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