Institute for

Development Policy
and Management
The University of Manchester
eCommerce for
Small Enterprise
A Handbook for
in Developing Countries
Richard Duncombe Richard Heeks
IDPM, University of Manchester
Robert !intu "arbara #akangu
FIT (Uganda)
Sunil Abraham
Written y! Richard Duncombe and Richard Heeks
$nstitute for Development %olic& and 'anagement ($D%')
University of Manchester, Precinct "entre, Manchester,
M#$ %&', U(
Tel! )**+#,#+-./+-011
Fa2! )**+#,#+-.$+00-%
3mail! richard4duncome5manchester4ac4u6
3mail! richard4hee6s5manchester4ac4u6
Robert !intu and "arbara #akangu
*$+ (,ganda)
(ampala, Uganda
3mail! roert5fituganda4com
Sunil Abraham
7angalore, India
3mail! sunil5mahiti4org
Pulished y! $nstitute for Development %olic& and 'anagement ($D%')
3mail! idpm5manchester4ac4u6
We! http!889994sed4manchester4ac4u68idpm
Developed from a
pro:ect supported
7uilding Digital ;pportunities (7D;) Programme
Department for $nternational Development
# Palace <treet, =ondon, <W#3 /'3, U(
3mail! en>uiry5dfid4gov4u6
We! http!889994dfid4gov4u68
Common-ealth +elecommunications .rganisation (C+.)
"lareville 'ouse, -,+-. ;2endon <treet, =ondon, <W#? *3=,
3mail! info5cto4int
We! http!889994cto4int
This handoo6 can e used together 9ith /eCommerce for Small Enterprise
Development 0 A Handbook for Enterprise Support Agencies in Developing
Countries/1 9hich has een designed specifically for use y agencies that are
assisting micro and small+scale enterprises 9ith e"ommerce4
2ie-3do-nload both handbooks from4
2ie-3do-nload additional handbooks concerning $C+s and enterprise
development at4
5ist of Contents
'o9 To Use This 'andoo644444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444#
A6 $ntroduction66666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666662
@#4 What Is e"ommerceA444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444-
@-4 'o9 "an e"ommerce 'elp Improve ?our 7usinessA4444444444444444444444444444444444444444$
@$4 e"ommerce Pitfalls444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444*
@*4 What ?ou Beed To Do For e"ommerce44444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444,
"6 Small Enterprise .n +he Road +o eCommerce6666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666667
7#4 Moving Up The e"ommerce =adder4444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444.
"ase <tudy #! <edu Welding and Farication C e"ommerce <tep #44444444444444444444444444%
"ase <tudy -! Mu6ono WomenDs @ID< Tas6 Force C e"ommerce <tep -44444444444444#1
"ase <tudy $! @dam <ons C e"ommerce <tep $444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444##
"ase <tudy *! <tar "afE C e"ommerce <tep *444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444#-
"ase <tudy /! (amal 7ells C 3lements of e"ommerce <tep /44444444444444444444444444444444#$
"ase <tudy ,! Pro:ect Toe'old C Fetting to e"ommerce <tep ,44444444444444444444444444444#*
C6 Are 8ou Read& *or 9eb:"ased eCommerce;66666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666<=
"#4 'o9 To @nalyse ?our 3nterprise4444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444#,
"-4 Ten Tips For e"ommerce4444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444#%
"$4 What (ind ;f e"ommerceA444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444-#
"*4 e"ommerce Facilitators4444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444--
D6 eCommerce "est %ractice >uides6666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666662?
@dvice <heet #! Fetting "onnected @nd Ma6ing @ <tart4444444444444444444444444444444444444444-*
@dvice <heet -! Using 3lectronic Mail (3mail)444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444-/
@dvice <heet $! e"ommerce <6ills44444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444-,
@dvice <heet *! We Development44444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444-.
@dvice <heet /! ;nline Promotion44444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444-0
@dvice <heet ,! Bet9or6ing @nd "ommunities ;n The Internet444444444444444444444444444-%
@dvice <heet .! "ontracting ;ut We <ervices4444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444$1
@dvice <heet 0! ;rder Fulfilment @nd =ogistics44444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444$#
@dvice <heet %! "osts ;f We+7ased e"ommerce44444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444$-
@dvice <heet #1! <ome =egal8Gegulatory Issues4444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444$$
@dvice <heet ##! We <ecurity44444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444$*
@dvice <heet #-! ;pen <ource <oft9are44444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444$/
E6 ,nderstanding 'ore About eCommerce666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666@6
3#4 Flossary8Hargonuster4444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444$,
3-4 Further Information C We+7ased <ources44444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444$0
Ho- +o ,se +his Handbook
This handoo6 is designed for entrepreneurs running small enterprises in developing
countriesI including micro+enterprises4 The handoo6 9ill also e useful for
entrepreneurs in medium+siJe enterprises4 The handoo6 is designed for those 9ho
are ne9 to e"ommerce and have little 6no9ledge of 9hat is involved as 9ell as for
those in enterprises that are already using information and communication
technologies (I"Ts) in their usinesses C including computers, email and moile
The o:ectives of the handoo6 are to!
 ;utline some asic information aout e"ommerce for enterprises including
the enefits and the pitfalls (<ection @)4
 Present some case studies sho9ing ho9 e"ommerce has een used in practice
y small enterprises (<ection 7)4
 'elp you ma6e decisions aout e"ommerce (<ection ")4
 Provide information aout different aspects of e"ommerce (<ection D)4
 Direct you to9ard further information on e"ommerce (<ection 3)4
First, read through Section A to learn more aout e"ommerce4 Then loo6 at Section
" and decide 9here you are on the De"ommerce ladderD4 ?ou can then loo6 through
case studies of enterprises using e"ommerce4
Section C 9ill help you to find out if your enterprise is ready for e"ommerce4
Section C1 as6s you to thin6 aout your usiness goals and carry out an analysis of
your o9n enterprise4 The analysis focuses on your potential for D9e+ased
e"ommerceD and e2amines your mar6ets, your customers, your products and services,
your location, your s6ills, technology and finances4
?ou 9ill then need to decide 9hat level and type of e"ommerce 9ill suit you4
Section C2 9ill help you do this y suggesting some of the costs and enefits for each
Dstep to e"ommerceD and the overall li6ely impact of e"ommerce on your usiness4
@ final decision you 9ill have to ma6e concerns 9hether you should develop
e"ommerce yourself or 9hether you should 9or6 through an De"ommerce facilitatorD4
Section C3 outlines some strengths and 9ea6nesses of a range of e"ommerce
facilitators you may 9ish to trade 9ith or consider for support4
Finally, loo6 at Section D1 9hich provides information on various aspects of Dest
practiceD in e"ommerce, and Section E 9hich provides sources of further information
aout e"ommerce4
A6 $ntroduction
There are tens of millions of small enterprises, including micro+enterprises, in
developing countries (D"s)4 More than %1K of all firms in D"s are micro+ and small
enterprises (M<3s), and these typically contriute 01+%1K of all employment4 They
are also significant in 9ealth creation, ma6ing up perhaps around a >uarter of gross
domestic product and often contriuting to e2ports as 9ell4
In an increasingly competitive and gloalised 9orld, M<3s need to compete more
effectively in order to further oost domestic economic activity and contriute to9ard
increasing e2port earnings4 M<3s 9ill also continue to play an important role in
increasing employment and incomes and thus contriute to poverty reduction on a
sustainale asis4
eCommerce is emerging as a ne9 9ay of helping usiness enterprises to compete in
the mar6et and thus contriuting to economic success4 e"ommerce can help deliver
economic gro9th, increased usiness opportunities, enhanced competitiveness and
etter access to mar6ets4 @t present, though most small enterprises lac6 the
6no9ledge of ho9 investment in e"ommerce could enefit their usinesses and help
them develop that competitive edge4 This is at a time 9hen the opportunities for
small enterprises to adopt e"ommerce are gro9ing due to improved access to the
technical and communication infrastructure4
This handoo6 9ill help you to understand more aout e"ommerce and 9hat
e"ommerce has to offer your usiness4 It 9ill help you to decide if you need
e"ommerce in your usiness, and the type of e"ommerce that can enefit your
A<6 9hat $s eCommerce;
eCommerce involves the sale or purchase of goods and services over computer
net9or6s y usinesses, individuals, governments or other organisations4 e"ommerce
uilds on traditional commerce y adding the fle2iility and speed offered y
electronic communications4 This can facilitate improvement in operations leading to
sustantial cost savings as 9ell as increased competitiveness and efficiency through
the redesign of traditional usiness methods4
eCommerce is the application of current and emerging information and
communication technologies (I"Ts) to conduct usiness4 These include e2isting
technologies li6e landline telephone and fa2, ut the I"Ts offering most scope for
small usinesses are moile phones, electronic mail and other Internet+ased services4
'o9ever, eCommerce is not :ust aout using ne9 technologies4 e"ommerce can also
help support profitale usiness relationships and assist you to more effectively
manage and run your usiness enterprise4 This 9ill involve creating more effective
e2ternal interactions 9ith customers, clients, collaorators and suppliers, ut it can
also mean improving internal usiness efficiency and even the emergence of ne9
products and services4
e"ommerce may involve selling directly from usinesses+to+consumers ("2C
eCommerce)4 For e2ample, a numer of craft producers and tourism enterprises have
already found some success dealing directly 9ith customers4
e"ommerce can also e conducted directly et9een usinesses ("2" eCommerce)4
This is y far the most common type of e"ommerce at present4 7-7 activity includes
portals that operate as electronic mar6etplaces or as auction sites4 7enefits of
eMar6etplaces can include reduced costs, etter research and >uic6er transactions for
uyers4 Ge9ards for sellers include improved customer service levels and cheaper
e2posure to customers4
There is also usiness+to+government activity ("2> eCommerce) that refers to the
gro9th in supply of goods and services for online government procurement C
potentially a large gro9th area in developing countries4
A26 Ho- Can eCommerce Help $mprove 8our "usiness;
e"ommerce can provide sustantial enefits for your usiness via improved
efficiencies and raised revenues4 It can enale ne9 9ays of 9or6ing to emerge as
your usiness faces the future and emraces the ne9 economy4 e"ommerce enales
you to gain access to etter >uality information, and thus empo9ers you to ta6e
informed decisions aout your usiness4
Most importantly, e"ommerce can give your enterprise a competitive advantage4 It
can help strengthen your mar6et position and open up ne9 usiness opportunities 9ith
the potential to improve profits4 7enefits of e"ommerce can arise in the follo9ing
Cost Reduction "enefits
• Reduced travel costs: y using a moile phone, email and other I"Ts to
sustitute for :ourneys4
• Reduced cost of materials: more information means etter choice of suppliers
and more competitive prices4
• Reduced marketing and distribution costs: for e2ample, pulishing a rochure
online can reach an unlimited numer of potential e2port customers and allo9
regular update4
• Reduced sales costs: the Internet provides unprecedented opportunities for
usinesses to reduce the costs of trade locally and, even more, across orders4
• More efficient supply chain management: can eliminate the need for
middlemen leading to lo9er transaction costs (including mar6eting, sales,
transaction processing), reduced overhead, and reduced inventory and laour
• Improved internal functions: cutting do9n on meetings, improving the
e2change of critical 6no9ledge, eliminating red tape, and streamlining
'arket "enefits
• Greater reach: a 9e presence can allo9 you to reach out to customers far
eyond your immediate location4
• More brand awareness: offering ne9 avenues of promotion for products and
• Improved customer service: providing more responsive order ta6ing and after+
sales service to customersI this, in turn, can lead to increased customer loyalty4
• Increased market awareness: you can ecome more a9are of competition
9ithin your mar6et and more a9are of mar6et changes, 9hich can lead to
product/service innovation or quality improvement4
.ther Competitiveness "enefits
• Increased efficiency: e"ommerce not only reduces costs ut it can also
increase the speed of transactionsI oth uying and selling4
• Continuous trading: suppliers and customers, if they 9ish, can access a -*+
hour8.+day sales service C particularly important 9hen trading through time
• pecialisation: e"ommerce can help you to focus your activities C ma6ing it
easier to uild relationships 9ith other enterprises and communicate your
needs to support agencies4
Many of these enefits can e gained through relatively modest investments in ne9
technology and systems4 Freater enefits may accrue as the enterprise moves up the
e"ommerce adoption ladder (see <ection 7#)4 It is important to realise, ho9ever, that
the enefits outlined are not e2clusively tied to e"ommerce4 For e2ample, mar6et
enefits may e achieved more effectively through etter usiness net9or6ing and the
uilding of personal usiness relationships, rather than through use of the Internet4
This emphasises the importance of adopting an approach to9ards e"ommerce that
puts usiness o:ectives first, rather than elieving that technology alone can deliver
the enefits descried aove4
A@6 eCommerce %itfalls
There are great potential enefits ut there are also pitfalls of going into e"ommerce4
They are the financial costs, the usiness Dopportunity costsD and the dangers of failure4
These are detailed elo9!
• e"ommerce 9ill ring e2tra costs as 9ell as potential cost savings4 The start+
up costs (initial investment in a computer8net9or6 connection, etc) 9ill e
high and there 9ill e additional running costs (see @dvice <heet %)4
• e"ommerce activity 9ill need to run in parallel 9ith e2isting usiness
methods4 For e2ample, you 9ill need to continue to produce paper+ased
mar6eting material (rochures, stationery, leaflets, etc) as 9ell as uilding up
your 9e presence4 This 9ill duplicate some activities adding to overall costs4
• e"ommerce may divert attention a9ay from more important offline activities4
It is important that online and offline efforts are not in competition 9ith each
other 9ithin a usiness4 In fact, for most M<3s, offline activities (such as
face+to+face meetings and personal net9or6ing) 9ill remain far more
important than online communication4
• @n e"ommerce venture may 9ell fail completely li6e any ne9 usiness
venture4 This highlights the importance for small usinesses of not thro9ing
all their eggs into the e"ommerce as6et4
Ho-ever1 there are also risks of ignoring eCommerceA Technology and innovation
can ring positive changes to your usiness C 9hich can improve the 9ay you do
usiness in the future4 The ris6s of not effectively emracing technology may e felt
throughout your usiness in years to come4 For e2ample!
• 'aving no 9esite, or a adly designed or mar6eted 9esite, may put your
usiness at a disadvantage as compared 9ith your competitors, particularly if
you are an e2porter or a tourism usiness4
• Unsuitale or inade>uate technology can mean that your enterprise is 9ithout
the communications systems that it needs to compete efficiently4
• Increasingly, enterprises that lac6 a customer and sales dataase may find it
difficult to carry out the regular and effective direct mar6eting and
communication that competitors conduct, and 9hich customers e2pect4
A?6 9hat 8ou #eed +o Do *or eCommerce
The asic re>uirements to get started are as follo9s!
• A computer4
• A landline telephone4
• A modem4 This device converts digital information from computers into
electronic signals that can e transmitted over telephone lines4
• Internet browser software4 This usually comes installed already ut ma6e
sure 9hen purchasing your computer you as6 if it has this soft9are4
• The services of an Internet Service Provider (ISP4 These provide you 9ith
access to the Internet4
• An email address in order that local, regional, and especially, international
customers can communicate 9ith you4
<ee the @dvice <heets later in this handoo6 for more details of all these
re>uirements4 Gememer that you do not have to o9n all of these yourself C you
could access them via a telecentre or Internet cafE, or you could share o9nership 9ith
other entrepreneurs4 ?ou can also ma6e a start on e"ommerce :ust using a moile
"ut don/t forget C personal face+to+face contact is still the most important method of
usiness communication C particularly 9ith your customers4 There are still many
effective 9ays to uild your usiness communications that donDt involve modern
technology, such as!
• "uilding a good reputation for your usiness4 This 9ill help to spread
information aout your usiness through 9ord+of+mouth4
• A professional image 9ill help to promote your usiness4 The use of a
printed usiness card, a letterhead and a logo, or signoard outside your
usiness premises 9ill help in this respect4
• Advertising your usiness4 The use of printed leaflets, posters, cards in shops
or adverts in local8national papers 9ill reach a 9ide customer ase4
The use of e"ommerce technologies 9ill help you uild on these good usiness
practices! for e2ample, using the Internet (or a moile phone) to promote your
usinessI to ta6e or give ordersI or to communicate 9ith your customers at a cheap
rate via email4
"6 Small Enterprise .n +he Road +o eCommerce
This section outlines the Dsteps to e"ommerceD descriing the differing stages of
e"ommerce development that you may find in a small enterprise4 It does this through
a model and then presentation of si2 real+life case studies of small enterprises using
e"ommerce4 The case studies sho9 ho9 enterprises are enefiting from e"ommerce,
as 9ell as some of the pitfalls4 Which step of the e"ommerce ladder are you onA
Gead through the case studies4 ?ou may identify an enterprise that is at a similar stage
to your o9n4
"<6 'oving ,p +he eCommerce 5adder
The DstepsD model can help you understand the different types of e"ommerce usiness
applications you may encounter4 It may also help you to identify the type of
assistance you may re>uire4
Step <6 Starting .ut4 Simple messaging using mobile communications
"urrently D9irelessD communications C including short messaging services (<M<) C
provide a cheap and 9idely availale option for enterprises4 Moile phones offer a
numer of 6ey advantages over fi2ed line communications for small usinesses C such
as instant communications 9ith customers and suppliers, even 9hen on the move4
They also provide greater connectivity and net9or6 coverage than landlines C users
can e instantly connected y te2t messages and moile chat C a po9erful mar6eting
and advertising tool4
Step 26 >etting .nline4 Email messaging
?ou can send or receive emails from a computer terminal either located on your
usiness premises or via a facilitator (such as an Internet cafE or
telecentre)4 3mail is a cheap, >uic6 and reliale 9ay to e2change
usiness information 9ith customers, suppliers, and usiness contacts
9ho are also connected to email4 @ variety of information can e sent C
not :ust messages, ut documents, photographs, dra9ings, or any other
computer data file (see @dvice <heet - for more information on email)4
Step @6 9eb %ublishing
We pulishing can e used to ma6e enterprise information availale C y using an
online rochure, for e2ample4 Its simplest form may consist of a $+* page 9esite
giving a asic usiness profile, some information aout products and services, and
contact information C physical and postal address, telephone and fa2, and email
contact4 In a more advanced form it may include an online catalogue C an online
version of a conventional catalogue that can e easily updated4 3ven a simple 9e
presence offers the aility to access a 9ide C potentially gloal C mar6et 9ith -*8.
accessiility4 (<ee @dvice <heet * for more information on creating 9esites4)
Step ?6 9eb $nteracting
We interaction 9ill allo9 customers (for e2ample) more scope to ro9se through
images, descriptions and specifications relating to your products and services4 It may
allo9 them to sumit email en>uiry forms, to order online, to use online services or to
use a shopping cart facility and order confirmation C that could e paid for and
fulfilled (delivered) offline4 Interaction over the 9e can improve customer service
and response to customer >ueries4
Step =6 9eb +ransacting
This can e termed as having a full e"ommerce capaility that covers the 9hole
transaction process from the placing of an order to online payment for goods and
services via secure net9or6s4 For 7-" e"ommerce this 9ill involve ma6ing use of
secure credit card payment systems, and for 7-7 e"ommerce 9ill involve payment
through secure an6ing systems4
Step 66 9eb $ntegration
e"ommerce may also ta6e on a 9ider role 9ithin a usiness through 9e integration4
We integration provides an electronic platform that lin6s customer+facing processes
such as sales and mar6eting (the Lfront officeL) 9ith internal processes such as
accounts, inventory control and purchasing (the Lac6 officeL)4 This is often called
e7usiness or the usiness may e descried as ecoming fully Le+enaledL4 e7usiness
lin6s internal systems 9ith e2ternal net9or6s (customers, suppliers and collaorators)
via the Internet4 Integrating systems can ma6e it easier and cheaper to do usiness,
and it can encourage customer loyalty and repeat usiness4
Case Stud& <4 Sedu 9elding and *abrication 0 eCommerce Step <
.vervie-4 @ micro+enterprise run y a single entrepreneur producing faricated
metal products C 9indo9s, doorframes and eds C 9ith t9o employees, and a
turnover of aout U<M$11+,11 per year4 The enterprise sells to local mar6ets and
serves many sectors including the construction sector, supplying 9indo9s and
doorframes, and rural schools and hospitals supplying eds4 The enterprise mainly
sells to individual consumers and schools4
$C+ Resources4 The enterprise has a moile phone 9hich cost the o9ner U<M01 and
re>uires a monthly fee of at least U<M* of airtime to operate on the net9or64 This
enterprise has no financial support and depends solely on income generated and
eCommerce "enefits4
• The use of a moile phone has greatly improved usiness y enaling constant
access to customers, even 9hen the entrepreneur is a9ay from his usiness
• 7oth customers and suppliers can e contacted giving an immediate response
and direct communication that has tremendously cut do9n transport costs and
given access to a 9ider mar6et4
• The phone has helped him forge a personal relationship 9ith clients for repeat
• <uppliers can also e readily contacted4
• The enterprise has uilt use of the phone into its mar6eting strategy y
distriuting the phone numer 9henever possile via usiness cards and
displaying it on finished products4
eCommerce Challenges4 The phone itself does not ring challenges4 @s to further
e"ommerce steps, the usiness o9ner regards other I"Ts (such as computers) as too
e2pensive to use4 7esides he does not 6no9 ho9 to use them4 'e prefers to spend his
resources on a cell phone as he could not ris6 eing 9ithout one in his usiness4
eCommerce Support4 The enterprise has not received any support e2cept in the
sense that the moile net9or6 provider delivers the infrastructure re>uired for the
5essons 5earned4 The phone should e availale for use at all times of the day4
'ence, it is advisale to :oin net9or6s that do not charge a service fee4 It is
important, therefore, to compare the pac6ages that phone companies are offering in
order to minimise costs and select a service that 9ill meet your needs4 Unfortunately
he lost most of the numers of his customers and contacts 9hen his moile phone 9as
stolen C this reinforces the importance of 6eeping ac6+up records also4
Case Stud& 24 'ukono 9omen/s A$DS +ask *orce 0 eCommerce Step 2
.vervie-4 MW@TF is a self+help enterprise producing tree seedlings, vegetales and
metallic stoves, employing si2ty 9omen, 9ith a turnover of U<M$,,114 It serves the
home mar6et only4 The vegetales are perishale so they only harvest 9hen they can
e sure of the mar6et4
$C+ Resources4 The enterprise has no direct access to I"Ts ut uses a community
telecentre that is located -6m a9ay from their premises4 They regularly use the
telecentre landline phone that charges them U<M14-/ per minute4 They also use the
email service to correspond and communicate 9ith agencies in at home and aroad4
They usually use the email services t9ice a 9ee6 (costing U<M141-/ per minute)4
<ince the connections are slo9 it can ta6e up to t9enty minutes to complete their
eCommerce "enefits4
• The telephone service is used to ascertain the mar6et for their produce efore
they harvest or ta6e their produce to mar6et4
• The phone has saved oth time and money, giving rise to etter prices4
• Nia email, they have een ale to estalish contacts 9ith a numer of ne9
organisations and individuals 9ho have suse>uently offered assistance4
eCommerce Challenges4 The computer currently provided at the telecentre are too
fe9 C :ust t9o for the 9hole local community C and also too slo94 <lo9 transmission
speeds also mean high costs for access4
eCommerce Support4 MW@TF has received support from the telecentre 9hich has
offered computer training to the staff and some memers at a susided rate4 They
have also assisted 9ith training of the staff, and demonstrated ho9 the Internet can e
used to search for information4 The telecentre also passes on messages to MW@TF4
'ence the telecentre is an important point of contact for the organiJation4
5essons 5earned4 When using the telecentre users are encouraged to have letters
typed eforehand and then :ust copied to send4 This costs less compared 9ith
composing a letter online4 It is also important to use the telephone effectively to find
out aout the mar6et or the prices efore setting off to mar6et C this is especially
valuale if the mar6et is far from the locality4 The enterprise intends to install a phone
at their premises that can e used y its memers at a cheaper rate4
Case Stud& @4 Adam Sons 0 eCommerce Step @
.vervie-4 The usiness ma6es machinery used in plantations such as machinery for
processing coffee4 They have nine employees, and recent annual turnover 9as
U<M#-,,1114 Their main mar6et is the home district ut /K of turnover comes from
e2ports C they have een e2porting machinery for five years4
$C+ Resources4 They have five landline phones and three moile phones4 In
addition, there is a single personal computer (P") operating in the usiness for email,
We and other purposes4 The P" has a UP< ac6+up system4 @dam <ons also has
created its o9n 9esite4
eCommerce "enefits4
• They have attracted prospective clientele and enthusiastic persons 9ho have
ro9sed through their 9esite to get information regarding their coffee
machinery units4
• They have received a numer of visitors y ensuring that the site is listed on
some main We search engines4
• They have also found enefits as users of the WeI for e2ample in finding
information they needed aout gasoline+po9ered generators4
• 3mail has een useful in saving costs 9hen contacting e2ternal clients or
suppliersI some orders are also received via email4
eCommerce Challenges4
• "limatic conditions in their location can cause prolems, including some
unreliaility of telecommunications4
• The high charges for airtime 9hen using moile phones4
• Prolems upgrading 9esite to otain details of interested8prospective
eCommerce Support4 They have received no direct support, ut the entrepreneur
9as motivated to ma6e a 9esite y a friend ased in the U< 9ho said that this 9ould
help enhance the scope of the usiness4
5essons 5earned4
The entrepreneur states !"dvertising in newspapers turns out to be e#pensive but if we
have a website$ we can %ust put the &R' of the website in the newspaper ( which
saves a lot of space/money) Interested parties can log on to the net and find
information about our business) *hus it should be on the agenda of every
entrepreneur to have a website!) 'e also stated that customers are more enthusiastic
aout reputale companies and having a 9esite gives 9eight to a companyDs
reputation4 They plan to upgrade the 9esite in order to add more transactional
functionality to it, li6e a chat facility to allo9 one+to+one interaction 9ith clients4
They recommend see6ing out a good net9or6 connection that offers attractive and
less e2pensive pac6ages4 The entrepreneur 9ould li6e to see government agencies
supporting a 9esite specifically for8aout small enterprises, including a product
catalogue displaying images 9ith easy 9ays to order the products4
Case Stud& ?4 Star CafB 0 eCommerce Step ?
.vervie-4 This enterprise roasts, lends and pac6ages coffee products and has #/
employees4 The customer ase is large since coffee is 9idely sold locally, including
in rural areas4 The enterprise supplies usinesses, traders, supermar6ets, restaurants,
shops, and offices, 9ith the local mar6et ma6ing up %%K of turnover4 The enterprise
is planning to target the e2port mar6et, and sees its e"ommerce ase as an important
foundation for this4
$C+ Resources4 The enterprise has access to t9o computers 9ith Internet access that
9ere ac>uired in -11#8-11-4 It also has a fa2 and phones (oth landline and moile)4
The company has set up its o9n 9esite that provides details of the products it offers4
eCommerce "enefits4
• .1K of the supermar6ets and hotels that the enterprise supplies have email
(though most other local customers tend to use the telephone to place orders)4
3mail is a 6ey tool to create or strengthen personalised relationships 9ith
ma:or clients through faster communication lin6s4
• <tar "afE has ecome etter 6no9n and many ne9 usiness contacts have
een made through its 9esite and email4
• The 9esite has already demonstrated that it is a cost effective 9ay to reach
out to the e2port mar6et4 They estimate the costs for a net9or6 connection
and designing and hosting the 9esite to e aout U<M-/11 per year4
• The enterprise also uses email for most usiness correspondence C this has
proved to e a more efficient and cost+effective 9ay of communication than
non+I"T+ased means4
eCommerce Challenges4
• <ervice rea6do9ns and slo9 dial+up Internet connections4
• 'igh investment costs for the I"Ts4
• =ac6 of sufficient 6no9+ho9 related to use of I"Ts and their future
• =ogistical re>uirements for the delivery of physical goods in order to fulfil
electronic orders4
eCommerce Support4 The enterprise has not received any support in the area of
e"ommerce4 The company had its o9n in+house strategies to finance these ideas4
The general manager indicated that once the enefits seem to :ustify the costs then an
idea is considered4
5essons 5earned4 3nterprises should apply cost8enefit analysis and determine if
they really need the technology4 Ge>uirements need to e specified carefully and
enterprises should shop around for different 9ays of solving prolems in a cost
effective manner4
Case Stud& =4 !amal "ells 0 Elements of eCommerce Step =
.vervie-4 The usiness has *1 employees and 9as estalished in #%0$4 They
manufacture machine and pressed metal components4 Their customers are #11K
home mar6et ut some e2port products containing their components are used in the
motor industry4 Their main customers are large motor engineering companies, and
recent annual turnover 9as almost U<M*11,1114
$C+ Resources4 The company has four phones (t9o landline and t9o moile) and
three personal computers, one 9ith an Internet connection4 They ma6e use of
standard accounting soft9are and a customised system for illing and invoicing4
They use email ut have no company 9esite4 'o9ever, they are ale to transact
online y ma6e use of 9esites o9ned y suppliers or customers4
eCommerce "enefits4
• @ccess to a moile phone is very useful to the "3; 9ho is al9ays on the
• 3mail has made communication much faster and easier
• They have registered 9ith an e2port portal 9esite through 9hich they have
received a lot of information from various similar units and clients from all
over the 9orld4
• They have saved time and money y completing transactions online4 For
e2ample, from one ma:or customer they received order details via email4 They
then used the customer 9esite to fill in all necessary details aout the order,
enaling it to e processed electronically4 @ll further correspondence 9as
conducted via email so that the entire transaction 9as completed online4
eCommerce Challenges4
• <lo9 access speeds due to limited I"T infrastructure
• =ac6 of training in I"Ts4
• Beed to integrate asic usiness processes such as inventory and product lists
9ith 9e+ased tools4
eCommerce Support4 The usiness has received support in the use of email and
other aspects of e"ommerce from one of their main clients, 9ho are already
e2perienced in using e"ommerce4
5essons 5earned4 There is a need for a continuous upgrading of technology4
'o9ever, along 9ith technology it is important the human element is retained in the
unitI li6e the usiness o9ner says !each employee in my unit is treated like a family
member$ and we discuss various problems together!4 'ence, too, the human element
must also remain in dealings 9ith suppliers and customers4 =ocation is also
important! they have enefited from eing located alongside heavy I"T+using
Case Stud& 64 %roCect +oeHold 0 >etting to eCommerce Step 6
.vervie-4 Toe'old manufactures and mar6ets traditional leather slippers and
sandals4 These are manufactured y artisans of a local marginalised community
3stalished in #%%%, it is run on a cooperative asis 9ith eight full+time employees4
Toe'oldDs customers are mainly shoe shops and outi>ues in @ustralia, Hapan, Italy
and other countries4

$C+ Resources4 The company has three computers at its head office and one in the
manufacturing centre4 Toe'old communicates 9ith its customers and its o9n
manufacturing unit via email4 Its 9esite contains a catalogue of its products and
customers are ale to ro9se and purchase its products via the integrated shopping
cart application4
eCommerce "enefits4
• Wor6ers in the villages are ale to spea6 to their head offices via moile
telephony4 Decisions get ta6en faster and more cheaply, removing the need for
travel4 Decisions also get communicated do9n the line more >uic6ly and
• Ge>uests are received via email and company representatives follo9 up 9ith a
>uotation4 "lients also use email to send in suggestions, alterations and
photographic evidence of damage8faults in products that might need
replacement4 This helps Toe'old improve the >uality of their product design4
• ;rders are received via the 9esite that 9ould other9ise e very unli6ely to
come! Toe'oldDs e2port amitions 9ould have een very difficult to fulfil
9ithout e"ommerce4
• @ management information system 6eeps trac6 of customers and predicts their
uying patterns4 This helps the enterprise to optimise their leather and
accessories purchases and 6eep inventory levels lo94
eCommerce Challenges4 Po9er supply remains erratic in the villages, 9hich can
sometimes undermine use of email4 Internet connectivity is also limited in rural areas
and finding trained staff is difficult4 Toe'old is also concerned aout retaining the
intellectual property rights of its original designs C sho9casing these designs on the
9e means they could e copied y others4
eCommerce Support4 @ local I<P offered a free template+ased shopping cart
application4 Donor agencies have also provided Toe'old 9ith computers and
soft9are at susidised costs4
5essons 5earned4 @ digital camera is useful as images of ne9 products or test
designs can e edited and uploaded >uic6ly onto a 9esite, and images are an
important element of 9e+ased sales4 Toe'old has trained staff memers in the use
of computers and they can no9 manage most communication via email4 The artisans
come from a poorer section of society and their literacy levels are lo94 This has so far
prevented them from eing part of the e"ommerce process4 Toe'old is trying to
ring their levels to a asic standard so they may ta6e a more sustantial role in using
I"Ts, ut this re>uires a concerted effort4 The firm sees creation of a more
sophisticated 9esite as valuale for future salesI for e2ample enaling uyers to
create their o9n foot9ear designs or colour cominations4
C6 Are 8ou Read& *or 9eb:"ased eCommerce;
7efore ma6ing a decision aout 9hat type of e"ommerce to adopt C and 9hether you
are ready for 9e+ased e"ommerce C you should ensure that!
• ?ou have clearly defined your usiness goals and strategies4
• ?ou intend to use e"ommerce in creative 9ays to improve e2isting usiness
tools and capailities4
• ?ou are ale to successfully alance you e2isting offline commerce activities
and ne9 online e"ommerce activities4
• ?ou have a realistic and achievale plan for realising genuine enefits4
Planning for e"ommerce involves setting achievale usiness goals, developing
usiness strategies to achieve those goals, and ma6ing use of practical usiness tools4
Tale # can help you to identify your usiness goals and help you to consider
potential strategies and practical tools to achieve those goals4

+able <6 "usiness >oals and Strategies
%ossible "usiness >oals "usiness Strategies 8ou
Could Adopt
"usiness +ools 8ou Could
Increase revenue from
e!istin" customers
7uild repeat orders4
Develop customer loyalty4
Increased advertising and
7etter communication4
7etter customer service4
#ocate new customers in
e!istin" or new mar$ets
32pand domestic mar6ets4
32plore e2port mar6ets4
7etter mar6et information4
@ttendance at trade sho9s4
7etter cross+order
usiness net9or6ing4
%iversif& products and
Development of ne9
products or services4
Mar6et research4
Use of consultants and8or
technical assistance4
Increase competitiveness
throu"h product'service
Underta6e product or
process improvements4
Technology upgrading4
Be9 production or service
Improved design and
<tandards compliance4
3mployee involvement4
Increase competitiveness
throu"h cost reduction
usiness efficiency
7etter purchasing4
Training and s6ills
e"ommerce technologies can help ring improvement to all of the usiness tool
e2amples listed in Tale # C particularly those that involve etter communications C
using email or moile phones, for e2ample4
It 9ill also e important that you are ale to prioritise your actions in order that you
can use e"ommerce to produce enefits in the areas that are most important to your
usiness4 For e2ample, if your main strategy is to uild repeat orders then efficient
and effective communications 9ith your e2isting local customers 9ill e paramount4
'ere, effective use of moile communications rather than 9e+ased e"ommerce
should proaly e prioritised, so that you can al9ays e in touch 9ith all your
customers and they can also leave messages for you4
C<6 Ho- +o Anal&se 8our Enterprise
The use of 9e+ased e"ommerce is li6ely to affect all aspects of your usiness4
Therefore, it is very important for you to analyse all aspects of your usiness efore
you ma6e any decisions regarding e"ommerce4 Fo through the follo9ing sets of
>uestions and note do9n some responses that apply to your usiness4 Then read the
comments alongside the >uestions to gain some feedac64
*irst1 &ou should consider &our 'arket
@re your main competitors mar6eting
or selling similar products or services
over the InternetA
*eedback4 If you ans9ered predominantly
D?esD then you need to consider 9hether you
are ahead, on a par, or ehind in
comparison 9ith your competitors,
customers and suppliers, in using the
Internet and e"ommerce4 If you ans9ered
predominantly DBoD then 9e+ased
e"ommerce may not e a priority for you4
Do your main customers or suppliers
have access to the Internet or are they
see6ing to use e"ommerceA
D and then &our %roEimit& to the 'arket
Where are your main
customers and suppliers
*eedback4 If your customers or suppliers are located
overseas, and you are located in a 9ell+connected uran
area, then you have high potential for 9e+ased
e"ommerce4 If your customers or suppliers are located
in+country and you are located in a rural area, then you
may 9ant to consider using a moile phone or gaining
access to a telecentre to use email4
Where are your usiness
premises locatedA
D -hat about the %roducts and Services &ou offer
Do your products or services have
road or specialised (niche) mar6et
*eedback4 More specialised products or
services are more suited to Internet
mar6eting or selling4 "onversely, if your
products or services are serving saturated
mar6ets 9here there are large numers of
competitors then your potential for 9e+
ased e"ommerce may e lo9er4 If you are
unsure aout the suitaility of your products
then you need to do some additional mar6et
@re your products or services suitale
for mar6eting or selling over the
"an your products or services e
delivered electronicallyA
D pa& special attention to &our EEisting Customers
@re your customers Dother usinessesD or
Dfinal consumersDA
*eedback4 If your customers are large
or medium+scale usinesses operating in
high potential sectors or if they are
consumers 9ith high disposale incomes
then you have high potential for
e"ommerce4 If your customers are lo9+
income consumers or small and
medium+scale enterprises operating in
lo9 potential sectors then you may have
lo9er potential for e"ommerce4 If you
are unsure then you need to do some
additional mar6et research concerning
your customers4
@re your usiness customers small or large
enterprises or organisationsA
@re your customers operating in sectors
that have high or lo9 potential for
If you sell to final consumers, do they tend
to have high disposale incomes or lo9A
D neEt consider &our "usiness
Is your enterprise ne9 or 9ell
*eedback4 The siJe and the gro9th+rate of your
enterprise are not as important as your mar6et,
your products and the nature of your customers for
determining your potential4 'o9ever, if you have
a larger 9ell+estalished usinesses then you are
more li6ely to have greater availale resources for
investment in 9e+ased e"ommerce4 ;n the
other hand, if you have a greater numer of
employees then climing the steps to e"ommerce
may present greater challenges in terms of
transforming s6ills and attitudes across your
9or6force4 <maller enterprises employing t9o+
five persons may find it easier to adapt, although it
is li6ely that availale resources 9ill e lo9er4
'o9 many employees does your
enterprise haveA
Is your enterprise gro9ing,
contracting or reasonaly
What 9as the turnover of your
enterprise in the last financial
D &our Access to $C+s
Do you currently have access to email or the
Internet on your usiness premises or via a third
*eedback4 If you are already a
computer8email or Internet user
and those facilities are
accessile on your usiness
premises, you have greater
potential to clim the steps to
e"ommerce4 If you have yet to
deploy I"Ts 9ithin your
enterprise then you need to
consider carefully the issues
covered in this handoo6 and
decide 9hat type of I"Ts
9ould e most eneficial4
Does your enterprise currently have a 9esiteA
@re your internal IT systems net9or6edA
To 9hat e2tent are your usiness processes
(customer dataase, accounts, invoicing,
purchasing, etc) computerisedA
D &our $C+ and "usiness Skills
@re you an I"T enthusiast and do
you have I"T s6illsA
*eedback4 3nthusiasm (commitment and
leadership) is proaly the most important
s6ill you can ring to any e"ommerce
initiative4 It 9ill also e necessary to develop
the technical and usiness s6ills to
successfully implement the technology and
the innovations that 9ill lead to ne9 9ays of
doing usiness4 If you already have I"T s6ills
and e2perience this 9ill greatly increase your
potential for e"ommerce4 'o9ever, good
usiness s6ills C the aility to recognise ho9
ne9 technology can e used oth 9isely and
cost effectively C are li6ely to e more
important than your technical s6ills
@re your employees familiar 9ith
I"Ts and 9hat is their level of I"T
Do you have I"T support availale
Din+houseD or do you depend upon
e2ternal maintenance and
development of your I"TsA
D &our "usiness Environment
@re local telecommunication services
provided to suit e"ommerceA
*eedback4 The aility of your enterprise to
clim the steps to e"ommerce 9ill depend
not only upon your o9n s6ills, ut also
upon the level of support, and the
constraints, that e2ist locally4 @n increased
level of a9areness of these De+readinessD
issues 9ill help you understand the
constraints under 9hich your enterprise is
li6ely to e operating4
'o9 advanced is your nation regarding
the legal, regulatory and an6ing
re>uirements for e"ommerce e4g4,
secure paymentsA
To 9hat e2tent can transport and
delivery systems meet the needs of
potential e"ommerce customersA
D and finall& &our *inances
'o9 financially stale is your
*eedback4 It is necessary that you have
access to financial resources to ma6e your
initial investment, ut you also need to e
ale to generate sufficient revenue to
sustain your e"ommerce activities in the
years ahead4 @ lot 9ill depend on your
usiness continuing to thrive and gro94 It
is important that e"ommerce can contriute
to gro9th of revenue (and profits) 9hilst
not imposing a heavy urden on your cash
flo9 or threatening your financial staility4
Ideally, the financial enefits 9ill need to
e2ceed the financial costs significantly4
What investment resources do you have
@re you a9are of the total li6ely
financial cost (investment ) recurrent
costs) of e"ommerceA
'ave you 9eighed the costs against the
@fter analysing your o9n situation, you may decide not to adopt 9e+ased
e"ommerce and instead concentrate on other aspects of usiness development or
ma6e etter use of cheaper communication technologies C such as moile phones C or
you may decide to ma6e use of facilities provided y others (Internet cafEs or
telecentres) rather than invest your o9n resources in ne9 I"Ts4
"areful analysis of the factors outlined 9ill help you understand your o9n strengths
and 9ea6nesses for e"ommerce4 If you do consider 9e+ased e"ommerce to e an
essential part of your usiness plan, then ta6e a step+y+step approach that avoids the
pitfalls4 ?ou can ta6e note of the follo9ing tips4
C26 +en +ips *or eCommerce
Tip #! @ sound and stale commercial proposition is a crucial first step4 Fetting
carried a9ay y all the e"ommerce hype could cause a loss of control over the
e"ommerce venture4
Tip -! ?our target mar6et should shape your usiness planning4 Gememer, your
e"ommerce plans cannot e separated from your usiness plans4 @s 9ith usiness
plans, then! a) you should ensure that staff, customers and suppliers have their say,
and ) your availale resources 9ill also influence your plan C ma6e sure the costs
can e :ustified y the enefits4
Tip $! Fle2iility all through the venture is very important for the venture to meet 9ith
success4 Which means you simply cannot 6eep 9aiting for technology to catch up4
The venture has to e treated as an on+going process4
Tip *! ;ften, the 9hole venture is controlled y an IT specialist, not sales people4
;nce a 9esite goes live, the mar6eting team is of utmost importance4 ThatDs 9hen
the pulic 9ill flood the site and no amount of soft9are technology 9ill come in
handy4 <o an e2cellent rapport 9ith the mar6eting and sales team sets apart a
successful e"ommerce venture4
Tip /! Nendors 9ill only deliver the e2act technology or application you 9ant 9hen
you properly communicate it to them4 @ lac6 of understanding et9een the user and
vendor can cause huge losses in investment and a flagging morale at the end of the
day4 @ thorough 6no9ledge of the technology you need and effective communication
9ith your vendors could avoid ig headaches4
Tip ,! "onsidering the outsourcing option is >uite natural and necessary at times, so
al9ays 6no9 9hat you need to outsource4 Fauge your in+house talent to see if you
meet the re>uirement4 There are plenty of cases of companies, 9ithout the ade>uate
6no9+ho9, having approached consultants 9ho vanish 9hen theyDre in need of
ongoing support (9hen the pro:ect goes live)4 <taying in control is asolutely
necessary4 Ideally, the IT people should handle the outsourcing contracts and not the
usiness department4
Tip .! Bever underestimate the scale on 9hich your site has to operate4 The losses
9ill e 'erculean if a site that cannot support customers comes to a grinding halt4 In
spite of 6no9ing the importance of a scalale system, many e"ommerce ventures are
not prepared for a, say, #11K traffic increase4 e7usiness sites need to scale rapidly in
order to respond to the changes in mar6et and an increasing numer of hits4
Tip 0! Fet as much advice on technical architecture as possile efore you go live4
(eep a ta on your e2penses as most of the times the udget seems to e e2hausted
much efore a certain level of functionality is even reached4 It should not occur that
the usiness platforms are up and running 9hile the IT development side has
staggered into the ac6ground4 7usiness on the Internet may seem e2tremely easy to
egin ut after that it is very difficult to continue if the necessary technology is
Tip %! More than half of all e7usiness ideas fail to rea6 even4 @ thorough
understanding of the 6ey usiness issues is very important, as is a good relationship
et9een those responsile for technology and those responsile for finance4 IT staff
need to use the language of the usiness as e"ommerce ma6es lin6s et9een IT and
usiness closer than ever4 The approach to9ards an e7usiness solution should not e
li6e that to9ards a pro:ect4 @ good planning approach and sound methodologies
should do the tric64
Tip #1! Many e7usinesses forget planning aout security measures from the initial
cycle4 This is a grave mista6e4 Most companies ring in the security issue in the end,
more as a panic response, after they have e2perienced a mishap4 There are a numer
of things that affect security at the infrastructure level itself4 <o getting things to the
right places at the right time from the start is important4
C@6 9hat !ind .f eCommerce;
For those 9ho 9ant to get into e"ommerce, the follo9ing chart is a guide to 9hich of
the e"ommerce steps 9ould e most appropriate
+able 26 Steps to eCommerce 0 9hat !ind of eCommerce;
Steps to
"enefits Costs .verall
Step () *eb
Ge>uirements of
main customers
and suppliers4
Merging online
and offline
Geductions in
operating costs4
relationships 9ith
customers and
Financial costs of
investment in
systems and
services are very
Nery high costs,
ut potential high
Step +) *eb
Primarily driven
y re>uirements
<peed and
convenience, ut
only a
re>uirement if
transactions not
'igh costs of
investment in
necessary systems
and secure
Gelatively lo9
enefits, ut high
Step ,) *eb
Ge>uirements of
collaorators and
7etter usiness
7etter mar6eting4
7etter 6no9ledge
of mar6et and
Moderate costs of
investment in
technologies and
net9or6 access4
Gelatively high
enefits 9ith
moderate costs4
Step 3) *eb
Ge>uirements of
customers and
the mar6etplace4
7etter mar6eting4
7etter randing4
3asily updated,
9ell presented
investment costs4
Moderate enefits
and relatively
moderate costs4
Step 2) Email
Ge>uirements of
support agencies
and employees4
investment costs4
'igh enefits and
moderate costs4
Step1) Simple
Ge>uirements of
support agencies
and employees4
=o9 investment
Potentially high
enefits and
relatively lo9
C?6 eCommerce *acilitators
@ 9ide range of facilitating organisations can offer you different types of e"ommerce
support4 This support may range from usiness advice to 9e development or mar6et
access4 Different facilitators can play different roles depending on your e"ommerce
When see6ing out e"ommerce assistance you should try to choose a facilitating
organisation that is actively involved 9ith your target mar6et and in tune 9ith your
usiness re>uirements C as 9ell as your technical re>uirements4
For M<3s in developing countries, facilitating organisations fall into several
categories4 @s follo9s!
a) Sector:"ased Agents3"rokers Resellers
These offer 9e+ased mar6eting activities and tend to e commission+ased4 They
are ale to accept and place orders and they are s6illed at information ro6ering,
logistics and supply chain management4 They may also offer Internet transactions and
electronic an6ing4
b) eCommerce +rading Hubs or %ortals
These are also commission+ased ut offer solely 9e+ased mar6eting activities4
They are ale to accept and place orders, and 9ill e more li6ely to offer Internet
transactions and electronic an6ing4
c) $ndustr& .rganisations "usiness Associations
These are usually memership+ased (re>uiring payment of suscriptions)4 They
proaly 9ill not have detailed e2pertise in e"ommerce, ut can often provide mar6et
coordination and information ro6ering services4
d) *air +rade .rganisations
They provide mar6et outlets ased on fair trade principles4 Most offer 9e+ased
services and mar6eting, and some offer a full transaction+ased e"ommerce service4
e) #>.s3"usiness Support .rganisations (including +elecentres)
Providers of advice, training and some mar6eting assistance4 They are not li6ely to
have specific e2pertise in e"ommerce, ut may e ale to offer advice and assistance4
f) $S%s3$+ Consultants
They can offer access to net9or6s, 9e development services and possily
e"ommerce advice and strategy planning4
@s summarised in Tale $, you should consider the strengths and 9ea6nesses of any
organisation that you consider for support C 9hether or not the organisation can meet
your o9n needs C particularly for fee+paying services4
+able @6 eCommerce *acilitators 0 Strengths and 9eaknesses
%ossible Strengths %ossible 9eaknesses
Food mar6et pro2imity,
mar6et e2perience and
Mar6et access4
Tend to create dependency
relationships 9ith suppliers
and tie in producers to sole
purchasing agreements4
=i6ely lo9 returns4
0esellers &uic6 route to mar6et4
More fle2iility for
producers in the mar6et4
=ess security in the mar6et4
Price sensitive4
;nly purchase and resell4
Tradin" 1ubs or
Wider mar6et access4 =ac6 of personal mar6et
relationships and contacts4
@le to advocate on ehalf
of producers4
=imited access to mar6et4
=ac6 of mar6et pro2imity4
3air Trade
@ssistance 9ith >uality
control and product8service
<pecial assistance to 9omen
7etter returns4
Tend to lose mar6et share to
commercial importers or
Barro9 mar6et that might
e seasonal (high demand at
Omas, for e2ample)4
452s and
/usiness Support
Possile sources of finance
or susidy4
=ocal access to resources4
May have little mar6et
access, 6no9ledge or
IT Consultants
@le to offer local technical
May have technical
e2pertise, ut proaly little
6no9ledge of the mar6et
9ithin 9hich you are
D6 eCommerce "est %ractice >uides
The guides provided in this section provide direct advice on practical issues that may
arise 9hen your implement e"ommerce in your enterprise4
Advice Sheet <4 >etting Connected And 'aking A Start
>etting connected4 "onnecting to the Internet is a fairly simple process4 ?ou 9ill
need a computer! ne9 personal computers might range in price from around U<M$11
to around U<M#/11 depending upon the type of computer, the soft9are installed,
9here one uys the computer and the 9arranty given4 <ome computing outlets in
developing countries also sell second hand+reconditioned computers that could range
in price et9een U<M#11 and U<M$114
"omputers can often e purchased using hire purchase (paying y instalments)4
Deferred payment and discounts for cash are availale4 <ome charitale organisations
and BF;s offer computers as gifts to schools and enterprises that cannot afford the
purchase price4
?ou 9ill also need a telephone line and a modem6 @ computer you uy may or may
not have a modem fitted4 Thus you should al9ays as6 9hether this is availale4 ?ou
9ill also need Internet ro9ser soft9are 9hich may 9ell have een preloaded into
your computer 9hen you purchased it, ut ma6e sure 9hen purchasing your computer
you as6 if it has this soft9are4
Finally you 9ill need to lin6 your computer 9ith a local $nternet Service %rovider
($S%) that 9ill provide you 9ith access to the Internet (and may also provide email,
9e space, etc)4 There are numerous I<Ps in most developing countries mostly
located in and around uran centres4 Most I<Ps provide -*+hour access through a
dedicated dial+up numer and 9ill charge a monthly fee4 Ma6e sure you shop around
for an I<P4
Starting to use the $nternet4
• Ta6e a course or ma6e use of (recent) guides4
• <tart using email to communicate and chec6 your email every day4
• Investigate local usiness 9esites and 9esites of companies in your
usiness sector
• Use 9e search facilities and investigate any usiness portals that cater for
your usiness sector4
If you do not have your o9n computer and connection, ma6e use of $nternet CafBs4
Most of these are located in cities or to9ns 9here any individual 9ho cannot afford to
o9n a P", ut needs to use the Internet, can have access4 Typical charges 9ill e less
than U<M# per hour4 More details concerning the possile costs associated 9ith
developing 9e+ased e"ommerce are contained in @dvice <heet %4
Advice Sheet 24 ,sing Electronic 'ail (Email)
Electronic mail (email) is the e2change of messages et9een computers offering
considerale advantages over letter+post and, increasingly, over fa2 communication4
It provides the cheapest, >uic6est and most reliale 9ay to e2change usiness
information 9ith customers, suppliers, etc4 9ho are also connected to email4
3mailing re>uires a computer 9ith Internet access4 Furthermore you need some client
email soft9are such as Microsoft ;utloo6 or =otus Botes4 The easiest 9ay to use
email is to go to a 9esite that offers free email facilities, such as ?ahoo or 'otmail4
3mails arrive almost instantly via the Internet4 ?ou can send DattachmentsD 9ith your
email C these may e computer files of any 6ind (documents, photos, sound+clips, or
even video clips)4
<ome advantages of email for usiness are!
• It allo9s a variety of information to e sent C not :ust messages, ut also other
types of computer data file including formal usiness correspondence and
• Messages can easily e recorded, to 6eep a record of correspondence4
• Messages can easily e organised, e4g4, y uilding up an address oo64
• Messages can e protected from outside vie94
• Messages can easily e sent to multiple recipients (such as all of your
• <ervices can e accessed y the entrepreneur 9hilst on the move and a9ay
from the office4
The main arriers to using email at present are!
• The investment costs (the total cost of computer8modem o9nership)4
• The running costs (net9or6 access)4
• The relatively fe9 usinesses in developing countries ale to send and receive
emails (although the numer is gro9ing rapidly)4
In order to use email, enterprises need access to an Internet+lin6ed computer4
@s descried in @dvice <heet #, o9ning this is some9hat costly ut email services
can also e accessed from shared facilities such as Internet cafEs and telecentres4
If you are an e2porter or you are regularly communicating 9ith email+lin6ed
customers, suppliers and other usiness contacts 9ithin the region or 9orld9ide (such
as in the tourist sector), then email is y far the cheapest and >uic6est means of
communication4 It 9ill increasingly e an essential tool for your e2port usiness4
Advice Sheet @4 eCommerce Skills
When adopting e"ommerce, asic usiness s6ills remain unchanged C 9hat 9e might
call the business fundamentals4 They can e summarised as follo9s!
• @ 9ell+thought+out usiness plan and mar6eting plan4
• The aility to ma6e yourself 6no9n and net9or6 effectively4
• The capacity to produce the right product8service at the right price in the right
place at the right time4
• (no9ledge of your customers and the aility to meet their e2pectations4
• The aility to pay your ills and get paid on time4
• The capacity to e fle2ile yet also plan for the future4
e"ommerce can help to support these fundamental s6illsI for e2ample, y capturing
customer information and ma6ing it easier to segment your mar6et or mar6et directly
to your customers possily using email or 9e+ased methods4 e"ommerce 9ill also
open up your usiness to ne- skills and ideas including the follo9ing!
• Database management6 ?ou can collect information on 9esite visitors C
usually customers or potential customers4 Information can e used to target
mar6eting efforts and improve customer service as 9ell as forecast future
trends in customer ehaviour4
• $mproving business processes6 This is a 9ay of analysing the different tas6s
9ithin an enterprise to identify etter 9ays of achieving greater efficiencies4
Gestructuring your usiness 9hilst ma6ing use of e"ommerce may assist your
long+term survival and gro9th4
• !no-ledge management6 More effective management of information and
6no9ledge 9ithin your usiness can ring enefits4 e"ommerce 9ill help you
to improve your s6ills in this area4
The Internet 9ill also help you do -eb:based market research6 7y conducting
investigation into mar6et trends and customer re>uirements, enterprises can develop
innovative strategies to compete4 The Internet can e used to learn more aout
customers, industries, products and services, and mar6et trends4 @s :ust noted, you
can also collect information from the people 9ho visit your 9esite, helping you to
plan for the future4
The Internet also has specific resources that 9ill assist mar6et research in relation to
product development, usiness planning, e7usiness development and mar6eting4
These can e accessed via a numer of the 9esites listed in <ection 3-4
For those further up along the e"ommerce steps, the Internet may also help you 9ith
more advanced s6ills such as Enterprise Resource %lanning (ER%) and 'aterials
ReFuirements %lanning ('R%)6 7oth use I"Ts to automate core usiness functions4
MGP is similar to 3GP ut is sustantially cheaper to install and is more suitale for
M<3s4 It re>uires computerisation of many aspects of the usiness including
accounts, inventory, and purchasing4 7enefits focus on reduced inventory costs,
etter stoc6 control, ordering and order fulfilment4
Advice Sheet ?4 9eb Development
Wesites can e static or dynamic4 Dynamic 9esites create pages in response to
visitor re>uests4 For e2ample, the amaJon4com 9esite uilds its pages according to
the types of oo6s that interest specific visitors from information stored in a dataase
C a dataase+driven 9esite4 @ simple static 9esite can e designed using 'TM=
code instructions plus image files such as
HP3Fs or FIFs4 It 9ill typically lin6 a home
page to other pages containing information on
the enterprise (see diagram)4 The 9esite
may include a shopping cart 9here customers
can purchase products online 9ith their credit
card or 9here offline payment methods are
outlined4 To create a dynamic information+
driven 9esite, a dataase is integrated into
the site and information can e displayed
9hen someone re>uests it4 The advantage is that the dataase can e updated and
changed regularly4 The dataase serving the 9esite may consist of client
information, such as account details and sales history and can e stored on standard
soft9are pac6ages such as Microsoft @ccess4
,pdating &our -ebsite4 To update a dynamic 9esite you have three options!
• @gree an annual fee 9ith your 9e developer for a set numer of changes4
• Ma6e the re>uired changes yourself C re>uiring specific s6ills4
• 7uild an update facility into your 9esite design4
The preferred (and cheapest) option is for an employee C using a username and
pass9ord C to e ale to add, modify or delete information on the 9esite using the
9e ro9ser4
"asic 9eb Design +ips4
• Pages must display or do9nload >uic6ly4 If your 9esite do9nloads too
slo9ly the customer may give up and try a competitorDs 9esite4
• Images (photographs and graphics) need more time to do9nload than te2t, so
use a small numer of images, repeat the same fe9 illustrations or logo
throughout the site, or install a utton on the 9e page, to allo9 the customer
to access a te2t+only version4
• <hort paragraphs and sentences are the norm 9hen 9riting for the 9e4
• "ustomers need to locate information easily4 Nisitors to 9esites tend to scan
pages rather than read the entire te2t, so signpost the information 9ith clear
• Information on the site needs to e organised and easy to find4 =in6s and
uttons, 9hich ta6e the visitor to different places on the site, should e
laelled4 Most important items should e accessile 9ith minimal clic6ing4
• <ome uttons need to e on all pages, such as! 'ome, <itemap, "ontact Us
and <earch4 Important information should e easily navigale4
• Wesites also re>uire tailoring for your customers4 "ustomers 9ant to uy
products that are descried in their o9n language, priced in their local
currency, and supported y people they can communicate 9ith4
Advice Sheet =4 .nline %romotion
The Internet provides an additional (and complementary) means of mar6eting your
products and uilding your enterprise profile4 ?ou should consider use of the Internet
alongside other media li6e telephone (such as a help line), radio, and print4 @ 9esite
9ill not provide a solution to all your mar6eting prolems ut it may ecome as
necessary as other forms of media C particularly if your competitors also have
To e effective, 9esites need to attract the right customers4 @ high proportion of
people 9ho visit a 9esite find it through a search engine or directory4 These services
present important mar6eting opportunities4 <earch engines generate lists of UG=s
(9e addresses) in response to particular >ueries entered y the potential customer4
The sites most li6ely to e visited are those at the top of the list4 We pages,
therefore, need to e designed so that they are located high on lists produced in
response to relevant 6ey9ords4 ?our 9e presence can particularly assist in the
follo9ing t9o 9ays!
"randing! "ustomers tend to stic6 9ith tried and trusted rands rather than ris6
uying an un6no9n rand4 @n online rand 9ill e an e2tension of your offline
rand4 ?our 9esite needs to integrate your rand into the customer e2perience of
visiting the site4 The rand (e4g4, amaJon4com) should e associated 9ith an easy to
use 9esite that offers high value in terms of information and services, has a
trust9orthy reputation, and is visually appealing4
%ersonalisation! "ustomer information (names, addresses and registration details)
can e used to trac6 preferences and tailor the contents of your 9esite to suit
individual tastes4 For e2ample, your site can suggest products that a particular
customer might e interested in, ased on his or her purchasing history or the pages
they have already vie9ed4
The most useful methods of direct promotion to customers are!
Email marketing! 3mail is li6ely to e the most cost effective 9ay to mar6et your
usiness4 ?ou should add a signature file to all emails4 This is the same as using
headed paper or attaching a usiness card4 Most email soft9are enales this to e
done easily4
+estimonials! These are genuine comments that satisfied customers have made aout
your products or services4 3ffective use of testimonials uilds crediility and ma6es
customers feel more secure C especially for online purchasing4 3ffective testimonials
9ill e unedited, genuine, freely given, used 9ith the authorDs permission and
accompanied y the authorDs name and location4
;ther online mar6eting methods include!
• 2iral marketing 0 using your email contact list to spread your details through
your contacts lists C y giving an incentive to pass on the message4
• "anner ads C adverts that appear on 9e pages4
• Reciprocal links C lin6s to other sites that provide an easy 9ay for a customer
to travel from a related site to your 9esite, and vice versa4
Advice Sheet 64 #et-orking And Communities .n +he $nternet
7y net9or6ing 9e mean connecting computers in order to share information4 @
net9or6 allo9s a small enterprise to share hard9are (printer or a phone line) and
soft9are (an accounts pac6age or email)4 The net9or6 may e e2tended internally to
include local offices through an intranet or e2ternally to 6ey customers and suppliers
forming an eEtranet4
Bet9or6ing a small enterprise 9ould involve lin6ing P"s, printers, fa2 machine,
scanners and phone connections4 @ common language or protocol 6no9n as T"P8IP
allo9s computers, soft9are and other hard9are devices to communicate 9ith each
other4 (<MTP and P;P C commonly used for transmitting and receiving emails C are
part of the T"P8IP protocol)4 These protocols allo9 different systems to share data
and communicate 9ith each other regardless of the type of operating system or
computer used4
For larger net9or6s you 9ill need net9or6ing soft9are such as Microsoft BT or
Bovell BetWare4 This soft9are 9ill set up one of your P"s to act as the main server
that 9ill hold the enterprise dataase and act as the central point sending (to a printer,
for e2ample) and receiving data8information4
!e& "enefits of #et-orking4
• Information is shared >uic6ly and efficiently4
• 'ard9are devices (e4g4, printers) are etter utilised y sharing 9ith other
• @ccess to information such as stoc6 and accounts can e otained any time of
day from any location4
• <uppliers and customers can e included in the net9or6 and efficiencies
achieved as a result4
• "ommunication 9ithin the enterprise improves overall4
7etter communication can also e facilitated through net9or6ing over the Internet and
9e4 For e2ample, online communities can open up interaction et9een enterprises
and customers and oost other mar6eting efforts4 Bet9or6ing avenues include!
• e#e-sletters4 They allo9 enterprises to send regular, targeted stories and
messages to people 9ho have invited them to do so C a form of advertising4
• Email discussion forums4 People can suscrie and then send emails that 9ill
e automatically for9arded to all other suscriers4 People see6ing
information can post emails to the forum, and those 9ho are ale to give
advice reply4 These are good for accessing technical advice and for
stimulating ne9 ideas4
• "ulletin boards4 These allo9 suscriersD emails to e posted in a central
location4 Unli6e email discussion forums, suscriers do not receive any
emailsI they have to visit the ulletin oard to see 9hat people are saying4
These can e used in online auctions and for accessing invitations to tender4
Advice Sheet 74 Contracting .ut 9eb Services
The decision 9hether to uy e2ternal 9e services or to develop your 9esite in+
house 9ill depend partly upon udgetary constraints4 @s 9ell as the necessary
financial resources (see @dvice <heet %) you should also ma6e sure that you have the
e2perience and 6no9+ho9 to do the :o and a clear understanding of your usiness
goals and strategy4
When involving an outside firm or individual, it 9ill e necessary to inform them of
your re>uirements4 This 9ill also provide a useful chec6list for future reference 9hen
the pro:ect is up and running4 @lso, pay attention to the ac6+up service on offer,
together 9ith contractual terms and conditions of your potential 9esite developer4
The core ingredient for any 9esite is content4 The presentation and content should
e 9or6ed out et9een you and your developer C ta6ing into account the needs of
your customers4 The developer should have a clear understanding of your
re>uirements4 ?ou could use the follo9ing chec6list for to provide the necessary
information for a 9esite developer!
• @ description of the usiness sector and a short outline concerning any
important issues specific to your industry4
• "larity on ho9 important the Internet 9ill e to the enterpriseDs future4
• The o:ectives for the site4 These should e concise and realistic4
• The target audience for the site4
• Who is going to develop the contentA
• Will a 9riter8content editor e re>uired to develop and structure contentA
• What 9ill the customer to e ale to do on the siteA Will the 9esite facilitate
online transactions, reply forms, search >ueries, etcA
• Will your enterprise re>uire mailing lists and ulletin oardsA
• What 9ill e the time frame for construction of the 9esiteA
• 'o9 9ill 9e content e updatedA
?ou 9ill also need to consider 9ho is going to host the site C -ebsite hosting4 @ 9e
host provides the necessary hard9are and soft9are to store your 9esite and allo9s
access via telephone or other connections4 @ll 9esites re>uire hosting that typically
includes! a one+off fee to a hosting company plus an annual suscription and (if
re>uired) credit card authorisation costs4 These payments may e dependent on the
e2pected numer of visitors (traffic) to the site4 When choosing a host, reliaility is as
important as speed4 Do9ntime C time 9hen your 9esite is not accessile due to
maintenance or some system failure of the host C can e e2pensive for a small
<ome 9esite design companies offer turn6ey solutions C all:in:one packages4
These are useful for enterprises 9ith no I"T ac6ground4 They eliminate the need to
find specialists supplying different Internet services4 There are increasingly lo9 cost
or in some cases free pac6aged soft9are solutions on offer4
Advice Sheet G4 .rder *ulfilment And 5ogistics
;rder or service delivery tends to e an area of 9ea6ness for many e"ommerce
ventures C depending, as it does, on the e2isting transport and supply infrastructure
(the Dric6sD rather than the Dclic6sD)4 Poor delivery damages customer loyalty and the
enterprise reputation if not handled 9ell4 e"ommerce therefore needs good logistics!
getting the correct goods to the right place at the right time, in the right condition 9ith
the minimum of cost4

<ome products or services are delivered more easily than others4 7oo6s, "Ds, etc are
often ought online ecause they are easy to ship through the post or via couriers4
When a customer uys online they tend to e2pect a etter standard of service4 To try
to plan a good standard for your order fulfilment, as6 yourself the follo9ing

• 'o9 are you going to distriute the goods or services to your customerA
• What are the delivery options and their associated costsA
• 'o9 can you improve your response and delivery timesA
• 'o9 dependent are you on the aility of others in your supply chain to
respond to customer needsA
• Do you have a strategy for customer dissatisfaction or returnsA
• @re you a9are of your o9n limitations and those of your supply chainA
The use of the Internet 9ill e more important if you are conducting 7-7
e"ommerce4 @s trade et9een usinesses increasingly moves online, so the
processes and services that support this trade, such as logistics and document
management, also move online4 Involvement in 7-7 e"ommerce can help small
enterprises ma2imise oth internal and e2ternal efficiencies (e4g4, filling e2cess
transport capacity)4 3lectronic net9or6s may also open up ne9 9ays of managing the
supply chain (e4g4, cutting do9n on paper9or6 and speeding up communications),
allo9ing streamlining of usiness operations, reducing costs and improving
Some +ips for $mproved .rder *ulfilment4
• !eep the customer informed C proaly via email4 This is vitally important
and may include! confirming the sale, the e2pected delivery date and follo9+
ups to chec6 delivery has een completed4 3ffective communication 9ill help
estalish a relationship of trust 9ith your customers4 With e"ommerce, many
of these functions can e automated using off+the+shelf soft9are4
• Establish personal contact y telephone or in person if local4 This is
especially important 9hen customers have prolems or complaints4 If you
have a telephone numer for customers to call, this should provide human
interaction rather than recorded messages4
Advice Sheet H4 Costs .f 9eb:"ased eCommerce
The asic cost components (outlined in @dvice <heet #) for 9e+ased e"ommerce
include a computer (P" or similar), an internal8e2ternal modem plus an Internet
connection via a landline! @ suitale computer should include the necessary soft9are
pac6ages that may e off+the+shelf or free soft9are options4
Typically, an $nternet connection can e achieved in a numer of 9ays!
Most popular are dial+up Internet services (recommended for light users) using
normal telephone lines through an I<P via a modem4 The modem is usually internally
placed in the computer4 ?our local landline provider 9ill charge for every minute you
are connected4 There is also an annual charge for dial+up Internet services C perhaps
U<M -1+$1 per month4 In addition a set up fee of, say, U<M-/+/1 may e charged,
especially for those clients 9ithout internal modems4
In some areas it is also possile to connect to roadand4 7roadand offers high+
speed, -*+hour Internet access and does not loc6 your telephone lines during use4
This comes at a high cost, though the cost is falling >uite fast4 Typical costs might e
U<M$11 annually for the lo9est and9idth (,*6ps) up to U<M-/11 and more per
year for the high and9idths (# Mps and aove)4 In addition an installation fee of
any9here from U<M#11+-11 may e charged4
.ther .ptions and Additional Costs4
For enterprises that cannot afford their o9n computer and dial+up connection, cost
saving options include a monthly8annual memership 9ith a local Internet
@dditional costs for 9e development may include! 9esite domain registration
(registration of the name of your 9esite), hosting and design, and search engine
suscriptions4 For full e"ommerce, other costs may include shopping cart facilities
and dataases used to store and manipulate customer or sales information4
Gegistration of a domain (9hich can often e done via overseas domain registration
sites) might cost U<M-1+$1 per year4 'osting and maintaining the 9esite 9ill
depend on the comple2ity of the 9esite4 @ simple 9esite re>uires at least #/+/1
megaytes (M7) of storage capacity, and could cost et9een U<M,1 and U<M-11 per
Wesite design costs vary enormously, ut a typical price could eU<M/+#1 per page
for a simple 9esite 9ith fe9 graphics4 The cost of a full 9esite could range from
U<M/1 to U<M#111 for a relatively simple 9esite4 'o9ever, the price is not fi2ed C
it depends on the designer and comple2ity of the site re>uired4 Thus to have a 9esite
up and running might re>uire an initial cost of any9here et9een U<M#11 and
U<M#111 9ith hosting, maintenance and other suse>uent costs li6e9ise et9een
U<M#11 and U<M#111 per year4 Updating costs should e ta6en into account at the
design and development stage4 It is possile either to train a staff memer to loo6
after the 9esite or to sign a contract 9ith the 9e development company4
Advice Sheet <04 Some 5egal3Regulator& $ssues

The Internet presents ne9 legal8regulatory challenges4 The gloal nature of electronic
communications re>uires a gloal vie9 of the legal implications4 =egal issues and
ris6s 9ill ecome more severe as you clim the e"ommerce ladder4 @ mar6eting type
9esite 9ill offer fe9er challenges than a fully interactive e"ommerce portal4 ;f
critical importance is the location and nature of the target audience and the la9s that
are li6ely to apply in the userDs country4

<ome of the 6ey issues are specified elo94 These 9ill need investigating further in
relation to specific local re>uirements and concerns4
+erms and conditions of use4 These should e legally incorporated into the
relationship et9een the 9esite and the user4 3lectronic contracts have legal
validity4 @cceptance of a contract should e recorded in an acceptale manner giving
the time and date of each customerDs acceptance (payment, of course, may e made
offline in the usual manner)4 It is possile for users to Dclic6D acceptance of terms and
conditions of use 9hen they enter a 9esite or ma6e a purchase4
$ntellectual propert& rights ($%Rs)4 The ease 9ith 9hich electronic content can e
copied and reproduced raises issues aout 9ho o9ns material on a 9esite4 ?ou may
need to clarify this C particularly 9hen using outside developers or all+in+one
H&perlinking4 This encourages users to move to and from other 9esites4 In all
cases the consent of a third party 9esite o9ner should e otained, or it may e
possile to e2amine the terms and conditions of the other site you 9ish to lin6 to in
order to find out 9hat their policy on hyperlin6ing is4
Data protection4 @ dataase of customers, suscriers or memers constitutes a
significant enterprise asset that should e protected4 In the asence of a frame9or6 of
la9 covering these issues, it is up to the enterprise to ensure that its o9n data is
Consumer protection4 There is a gro9ing ody of la9 that offers protection to
consumers in their day+to+day transactions and re>uires the disclosure of certain
information to consumers4 In practical terms, 9esite operators should ensure that the
fundamental ingredients of a contract (e4g4, offer and acceptance) are appropriately
dealt 9ith on their 9esites4 "ertain prior information such as the identity of the
supplier, price of the goods, delivery costs, delivery arrangements and cooling+off
periods should also e provided on+screen prior to the sumission of an online order4
.verseas Curisdictions4 <mall enterprises are not in a position to otain legal advice
on all the :urisdictions in 9hich their 9esite is accessile4 Insofar as it is possile
therefore, 9esite operators should see6 to ensure that the la9s and :urisdiction of
their country of estalishment apply to the 9esite4 Therefore, you should chec6 the
rules of the country 9here your 9esite is hosted4
Advice Sheet <<4 9eb Securit&
Protecting information from unauthorised access is a critical Internet issue4 It is also
the case that the collection, storage and distriution of information via the Internet is
increasingly governed y legal regulation4

The follo9ing points are an e2planation of some asic security measures that can e
installed in your computer or uilt into your 9esite!
Authentication4 @ common security measure that re>uests the user to login 9ith
authorisation details efore allo9ing access to restricted areas of a 9esite4 These
details usually include a username and a password)
Email securit&4 It is possile to protect your email messages from snoopers, and
ensure that email conversations remain private4 ;ne method is Dpulic 6ey
encryptionD4 This technology transmits email messages in a code or cipher, and
decodes them at the other end, ma6ing it possile only for the recipient to read them4
@n encryption facility should e availale as part of your email soft9are (e4g4, on M<
;utloo6 32press)4
*ire-alls4 These are security systems that protect the information contained in your
computer system from outside hac6ers4 Fire9alls are particularly useful for
protecting a usiness net9or6 that sends and receives emails, transfers data over the
Internet or connects 9ith outside computers4
Digital certificates4 @ digital certificate is confirmation y a respected third party that
the client company is legitimate and can guarantee security of a financial transaction4
When a customer goes online and decides to uy something the 9e ro9ser chec6s
to see if a 9esite has a digital certificate4 If the re>uired confirmation is detected, the
vendorDs site server is accepted and the visitor is ale to shop 9ith peace of mind4

Digital signatures4 @ comination of services that allo9s you to electronically sign a
document and affords the recipient the opportunity to authenticate the signature4

@nother security prolem is viruses4 "omputer viruses are passed from computer to
computer via Internet do9nloads, email attachments, shared dis6s, and shared files4
"aution should e e2ercised 9hen e2changing information et9een computers and
do9nloading from the Internet4 Well+6no9n suppliers of anti+virus soft9are include
<ymantec or Mc@fee4
More advanced security measures ecome necessary 9hen transactions are conducted
over the Internet such as through the use of credit cards! These include public ke&
infrastructure (%!$) and Secure Sockets 5a&er (SS5)4 These are methods of
encryption 9herey the recipient of a ciphered message unloc6s the code y applying
a mathematical 6ey to it4 In addition to standard authentication procedures, <<= uses
encryption coding to loc6 in client information and is the industry standard 9here
online credit card transactions occur4
Advice Sheet <24 .pen Source Soft-are
;pen source typically means that the soft9are code (the underlying computing
instructions) can e read, re+distriuted and modified, independent of the people that
created it4 @ 6ey enefit of the open source system is its potential aility to reduce
soft9are costs as it is usually free to otain and saves on licence costs4 It also allo9s
you to upgrade your usiness soft9are at your o9n pace, rather than having to 6eep
up+to+date 9ith commercial soft9are upgrades4
The oundaries et9een open source and proprietary soft9are (such as Microsoft) are
ecoming muddied, as proprietary soft9are adopts some open source standards and
often freely pulishes its o9n formats4 The choice et9een open source and
proprietary systems comes do9n to 9hat is right for your usiness! you may 9ant to
loo6 at 9hat other usinesses in your field use ut there are a numer of e"ommerce+
related open source products no9 availale4
Potential enefits of open source include the follo9ing!
• ?ou can get some open source soft9are free y do9nloading it from the
• 3ven if you purchase tailored pac6ages from third parties the initial price can
e much cheaper than for proprietary soft9are4
• There are no copyright costs C you are free to copy and distriute open source
soft9are to additional users4
Potential costs!
• For commercial use, open source soft9are may need more s6ill 9hen it comes
to installation and management than proprietary products4 @lso if a part of an
open source system lets you do9n, it can e hard to 6no9 9here to turn for
• ;pen source may save on some initial costs ut for many usiness costs
related to e"ommerce C gathering data, training staff, changing the 9ay you
9or6 C it has no cost advantage4
• The installed ase of most open source soft9are is smaller than for dominant
proprietary pac6ages, so it can e harder (or more costly) to otain support and
;ther factors depend on the particular soft9are4 For e2ample, choosing open source
may mean you are not tied to a particular soft9are producer, ut it may tie you in to
one particular local support firm4 ;pen source might provide greater reliaility,
attention to security, and capacity for customisation to your e"ommerce needs4 ;r it
might not C it all depends on 9hich particular open source and 9hich particular
proprietary soft9are you are comparing4
;verall, open source is a useful option that you should consider 9hen implementing
e"ommerce4 7ut you should gather information and local opinions aout it first4
E6 ,nderstanding 'ore About eCommerce
E<6 >lossar&3Iargonbuster
@ ro9ser is soft9are that allo9s your computer to access and display 9e pages4
34g4, Microsoft Internet 32plorer or Betscape 7ro9ser4
3very net9or6 re>uires some 9ay to transport information from one point to the ne2t
C that connection may e physical such as Dt9isted pairD or Dcoa2ialD cale, or 9ireless
such as moile, micro9ave, radio or satellite4 The capacity of a connection to carry
data is called its bandwidth4
Domain names (e4g4, 9994amaJon4com)
@ domain name is the address at 9hich a 9esite is located on the Internet4 3ach
9esite has a uni>ue domain name, 9hich must e registered4 @n e2ample is 6com,
the most gloally recognised, and the most suitale if 9ishing to trade aroad4
Descries the 9ay in 9hich data is transmitted C as #s81s C y computers and modern
phone lines and moile phones4 "ontrasts 9ith the old DanalogueD method of
@ collection of computer files stored in one place4
3lectronic Data Interchange! computer+to+computer e2change of electronic documents
for usiness4
The transfer of messages et9een computers4
When 9or6 is done on a computer and then stored on a dis6, the result is a called a
Floal <ystem for Moile communications! a digital phone net9or6 standard4
Home %age
The first page you see 9hen you connect to a 9esite on the Internet4
'yperTe2t Mar6up =anguage! a computer language used to create 9e pages4
@ connection lin6ing one 9e page to another 9e page via the Internet4
Information and "ommunication Technology! electronic means of handling digital
data such as computers and the Internet4
World+9ide communication system C a net9or6 of net9or6s C that connects
computers and allo9s them to e2change data4
Internet <ervice Provider! a company that provides you 9ith access to the Internet4
Modulator8demodulator! a device that allo9s computer signals to e transmitted over
traditional (DanalogueD) phone lines4
"omputers :oined together so that they can communicate 9ith each other4 @ local
area net9or6 (=@B) covers a single uildingI a 9ide area net9or6 (W@B) covers a
roader area, typically lin6ing computers in different to9ns or countries4
In a net9or6, information is sent or passed do9n the connection from one
device to another in Dpac6etsD or loc6s of information4 This 9hole process of sending
loc6s of information in pac6ets is controlled y net9or6 protocols (e4g4, T"P8IP)4
Search Engines
<earch engines are tools that enale people to search the 9eDs pages for specific
information or 9esites4 DFoogleD is among the most popular4
The instructions that ma6e a computer 9or64 @ particular set of instructions that
performs a function is called a program4 If offered for general sale, this is proprietary
softwareI if produced for a single, specific customer, this is custom software4
The numer of visitors a 9esite receives is 6no9n as its traffic4
9eb Directories
Directories perform a similar tas6 to search engines in that they hunt for information
on 9esites4 @mong the most 9ell+6no9n directories is ?ahoo4
9orld:9ide 9eb (999)
@ collection of lin6ed documents (pages) connected via the Internet4 The pages can
hold 9ords, pictures, sound and video4
"ollections of pages created and maintained y a company, organisation, or
individual4 The sites are found via the Internet and so are accessile from any
Internet+lin6ed computer in the 9orld4
E26 *urther $nformation 0 9eb:"ased Sources
@ selection of online information aout e"ommerce for enterprise development from
gloal sources is listed here!
http433---6agri-atch6com3 32ample of an (Indian) information portal and agriculture
eMar6etplace4 The site offers the latest ne9s and mar6et updates, research reports and
directory en>uiries4
http433---6catgen6org3 "atFen is free 7-7 and 7-" e"ommerce catalogue soft9are
offered y the BF; P3;P=in6 for M<3s4 M<3s can choose to open different accounts4
<ervices cost et9een U<M#1 and U<M/14 There is an email helpline as 9ell as language
options and e2amples of catalogues y M<3s in developing countries4 <ee also!
http433---6ecomlink6org3 3comlin6 is a 6no9ledge+management gate9ay supporting
enterprises in developing countries in the estalishment of e"ommerce and e7usiness4
http433---6ecomm?dev6org3 e"ommerce for Development 9esite on 9hich this handoo6
can e found4
http433---6ecommerce:guide6com3 @n e"ommerce+focused source for independent, up+to+
date information on e"ommerce4 There are daily ne9s feeds, editorials, product descriptions,
case studies, discussion forums on e"ommerce, and lots more4
http433---6g77tin6org3 The Trade Information Bet9or6 portal is a <outhP<outh initiative
y "hamers of "ommerce in the F.. <tates4 It provides usiness information on #$$
countries and pulishes offers for e"ommerce training and services as 9ell as serving as a
dataase for 7-7+contacts et9een <M3s in developing countries4 ?ou can do9nload
e"ommerce training material from the site4
http433---6it:ab6net3 Focuses on IT usage in <outhern @frican usiness ut reaches out to
other @frican and @sian regions4
http433---6line=66com3 =ine /, is a source for gloal information on e"ommerce
technology and strategy4 ?ou can find information on every part of e"ommerce and
e7usiness, including company profiles4
http433---6nfib6com3page3pgJ200?0=27??H6@@6html U< Bational Federation of
Independent 7usiness page of guides on e"ommerce4
http433---6smetoolkit6org3 The <M3 Tool6it from the International Finance "orporation
includes a Technology section 9ith pointers on e"ommerce4
http433r06unctad6org3ecommerce3 UB"T@D reports and policy analysis on e"ommerce4
http433-ebmonke&6-ired6com3-ebmonke&3e:business3 We Mon6ey offers concrete
procedure descriptions (Lho9+toL+listings) 9ith practical hints for the estalishment of your
o9n e7usiness 9esite4

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