The Internet is one of the fastest growing mediums for businesses today, yet most businesses are not yet taking advantage of it.
Advantages • Increased Exposure • More people can find you • What you do • Who you are
Advantages • Increased revenue potential • Larger coverage area • Larger customer base • Reduced cost (customer service)
Advantages • Customer Service • Provide directions to your brick and mortar store • Information about products • Customer convenience • Parts and service • Appointment scheduling
Not technically savvy • Does not know where to start • Knows nothing about computers • Knows even less about the Internet • Intimidated
No staff • No one to maintain a web site • No one available to handle shipping, etc.
Too Costly • Technology can be expensive • May not be able to justify ROI
Do you have a product that can be easily sold over the internet? • Too Big? • Too Small? • Intangible? • Is it shippable?
Do you have a supporting product that could be sold over the Internet? • Parts? • Repair depot? • Accessories?
Can you benefit from a non-profitable Internet presence? • Appointments or reservations? • Provide customer information • Other services that could reducethe number of routine phone calls that could free up staff for sales?
Expand to new geographical areas • Other states? • Other cities? • International?
Improve customer service • Quicker response • Improve convenience • Reduce cost
Expansion in the local area • Making more people aware of your presence.
Is it going to be a profit center? • Do you expect your website to return a profit? • Can it reduce costs?
What is the competition doing? • Do they have an Internet presence?
You have decided that your business can benefit from a web presence…So what now?
Calculate your cost Resources you will need
Someone to do the work • Staff • Contractors • Do it yourself
Domain Name • What are you going to call it? • Should be short • Easy to remember • Easy to type
Some place to put the domain (website) • Hosting service
If you are going to be selling merchandise • Credit Card merchant account • Secure web services (certificate) • Shopping cart • Advertising
Staff or contracting • Staff person $30k – $50k • Contracting $25 - $50/hour • Consider requesting bids on a job basis • Pay per hour only for support services or consider a monthly contract price • The hidden cost of doing it yourself
Domain Registration • $15.00/year on average
Hosting services • Cost • $4.95 - $19.95 • What to look for • References • Bandwidth limitations…do they have additional charges or over use?
What other services are available? • How much disk space is provided • Up time guarantees • Support options • What will they do • What will they not do (or charge extra for)
Credit card merchant accounts • If you already have a brick and mortar business you probably already have one. • Make sure it supports internet sales – some don’t • Do they have a web interface that you can link to or is it POS only
Check for any exclusions for internet sales or extra charges • Internet sales usually have a larger percentage charge and a higher transaction fee • There may be additional gateway charges
If you don’t have one – you will have to get one • Sign up fees • Minimum monthly fees • Discount rates • 2.17% and up
Transaction fees • 25% - 30% • Gateway processing fees (a gateway may or may not be required) • Around $30.00/monthly
Secure website certificate • You must have a secure certificate for accepting orders over the internet. • Must be 128-bit encryption • Various vendors supply them • Verisign • Thawte • Renewed on a yearly basis • $70 - $400/year fees
If you are selling products where you want to encourage users to purchase more than one item per visit, you will need to have a shopping cart system.
There are a number on the market • Free (open source) to $300 or more • Make sure they provide interfaces to various merchant account vendors • Are they customizable? • Can you maintain them, or do you need someone else to do that?
Some hosting services provide them • May not be customizable • May be extra charage
Promotional considerations – Just because you build it, they will not come
Like any business model, you have to build in promotional costs • The truth about search engines • Most now have a fee based inclusion model • Paid inclusions run $30 - $100+ per year • You have to submit your site to search engines. • Free search engine listings can take up to 6 months for inclusions. • Getting a good listing, requires an effort.
Free Advertising • Letterheads • Business Cards • Flyers • Newsletters • Subject matter lists • Word of mouth
First things first • Define your business model and expectations (including budget) • Select a domain name…make sure it is available
Review hosting options • What do they cost • What do they support (languages, etc) • What support do they provide • Resolve any credit card issues • Select software and who is going to maintain it
Select a hosting service • Install secure services • Build the site • Promote the site • Periodically score card the site