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A Beginners Guide to e-Commerce: Tools for Profit. Kimball P.Marshall, Ph.D., Alcorn State University kimball.p.marshall@netzero.net Ilya Smolyaninov, Alcorn State University Igor Georgievskii, Alcorn State University Leigh Junkin, Alcorn State University March 15, 2008.

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a beginners guide to e commerce tools for profit

A Beginners Guide to e-Commerce: Tools for Profit

Kimball P.Marshall, Ph.D., Alcorn State University kimball.p.marshall@netzero.net

Ilya Smolyaninov, Alcorn State University

Igor Georgievskii, Alcorn State University

Leigh Junkin, Alcorn State University

March 15, 2008

introduction what is e commerce
Introduction - What is e-Commerce?
  • e-Commerce – Any activity by which people sell buy and sell products on the Internet.
  • The Internet has created opportunities for people to offer products they make to a world market with very little cost.
  • The trick is to know how!
  • In this workshop we will show you examples of food, jewelry, music, art, and crafts products being sold on the Internet by people like you,



  • To begin, let's look at our training objectives!
training objectives
Training Objectives
  • Recognize the challenges to be faced
  • Show opportunities to develop a rural home business using the Internet - Success Stories
  • Show how rural life skills can be turned into e-Commerce products by rural people – rural life skills have value!
  • Explain how to get free Internet access and the steps to be followed that lead to successful sales on the Internet
  • Explain how to keep the records to show if you are making a profit or not
  • Help you to get started
challenges we face
Challenges We Face
  • What is needed?
    • Information and experience
    • Knowledge about similar people with similar products
    • Personal goals for an e-Commerce business
    • Understanding of the steps needed to begin basic e-Commerce sales
    • Belief that the steps will lead to e-Commerce sales
    • Belief that your e-Commerce efforts will result in achieving your personal goals
    • Belief that you can make it happen
activities to address challenges
Activities to Address Challenges
  • Free flowing discussions to identify desired rewards (financial, social and psychological)
  • Recognize neighbors who produce and sell products on a small scale for “extra cash”
    • Entrepreneurial small farmers who engage in truck farming activities
    • People who participate in local farmers markets
    • Persons who are known to make special products such as jams, jellies, toys, quilts or other craft products
    • Write in other people and products


what kinds of people sell on the internet success stories from rural communities
What Kinds of People Sell on the Internet? Success Stories from Rural Communities
  • Rural life skills have value
  • Key success stories
    • Oyster Creek Mushroom Company
    • Indian Village
    • Others
oyster creek mushroom company
Oyster Creek Mushroom Company

Strategy in Action


Oyster Creek Mushroom Company of Damariscotta, Maine shows how e-Commerce can serve specialty food niche markets. The web site explains that the company grows “the very best” Shiitake Mushrooms, as well as a variety of fresh wild mushrooms, and offers dried mushrooms, mushroom powders, flavored mushroom oils, and gift boxes. The site also tells the owners’ personal story, educates customers about wild mushrooms, offers recipes, and allows customers to purchase online.



Reproduced with permission from Dan Heydon, Oyster Creek Mushroom Company

indian village
Indian Village

Strategy in Action


One of the most interesting rural e-Commerce Web sites is www.IndianVillage.com, an online shopping mall with many links to Indian related web sites such as Durango Silver Company that offers turquoise jewelry and cabochons through its eBay store. Other IndianVillage.com Web site links displays American Indian artisans offering pottery, basketry, textiles, beadwork and Indian jewelry.



Reproduced with permission from John Hartman, Durango Silver Company

activities to build on success stories
Activities to Build on Success Stories

Group discussions to identify success stories from your area!

  • Does anyone know anyone who has sold products on the Internet
    • Family members, neighbors, work colleagues, friends?
      • How did they do it?
      • What auction site(s) do they know about?
      • Did they make money?

Review Web pages cited in the presentation

  • Print or display web pages
  • Think of products you might sell
  • Discuss costs involved
    • Time
    • Supplies
  • Compare prices of similar products being sold on the Internet to show the profit potential

Common Rural Life Skills

  • A variety of job skills can produce marketable products appropriate for profitable e-Commerce sales:
    • Food processing
    • Fabric crafts
    • Carpentry and wood working
    • Visual arts
    • Music
    • Book publishing

Food Processing

  • Jams, jellies, candies, relishes
  • “Home grown” or “gourmet” foods

Fabric Crafts

  • Sewing
  • Knitting
  • Crocheting
  • Quilting
  • Leather goods
  • Embroidery
  • Fabric toys

Carpentry and Wood Working

  • Furniture
  • Toys
  • Art objects
  • Yard décor
  • Dollhouses
  • Mailboxes

Visual Arts

  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Sculpture
    • Clay
    • Metal
    • Ceramic
    • Wood
  • Pottery
    • Decorative
    • Functional


  • Independent artists
  • Musical groups
  • Church choirs

Book Publishing

  • Rural authors
  • Cultural or historical organizations
  • Club fund raisers
  • Genealogical materials
activities for discovering e commerce opportunities
Activities for Discovering E-Commerce Opportunities
  • What things do you make for family and friends?
    • Products made as presents or for home use
    • Explore market potentials through online store searches
    • Search in group for similar products on Internet auction sites
    • Observe how Internet auction sites work
simple e commerce approaches for getting started
Simple E-Commerce Approaches for Getting Started


Online auction and shopping websites are where people and businesses buy and sell goods and services worldwide

things you need to know about selling online
Things You Need to Know About Selling Online
  • Obtain Internet access and an e-mail address
  • Register as a seller on an Internet auction site
  • Establishing a payment system to receive your money
  • Create a listing to offer your product
  • Actively sell your product during the offering time
  • Arrange payment and shipping
  • Buyer and seller feedback to the Internet auction site
obtaining internet access and an e mail address
Obtaining Internet Access and an E-mail Address
  • Free Internet access is often available in the community
  • Free e-mail accounts are available through several reputable internet sites

Internet Cafes



Coffee Shops


register as a seller
Register as a Seller
  • Basic Steps:
    • Enter basic information--is it secure?
    • Choose your User ID and password
    • Click on the register link at the top of most internet auction pages
    • Get a confirmation e-mail
establish a payment system
Establish a Payment System
  • Requirements for efficient, secure sales:
    • Local bank account to receive payments
    • Secure payment method for customers
      • PayPal (https://www.paypal.com/)
create a listing
Create a Listing
  • Decide what to sell
  • Complete online listing form
  • Auction format
    • Fixed price format
    • Classified ad format
    • “Store” format
  • Select a category
  • Specify a title
  • Write a description
  • Take digital photographs
  • Beginning and ending times for the auction
  • Other listing information
selling the product
Selling the Product
  • Monitor the process regularly
    • Check e-mail and the auction
  • Communicate with interested buyers
    • Reply to information requests quickly
  • Promptly close the sale
    • Notify winning bidder
    • Confirm purchase
payment and shipping
Payment and Shipping
  • Monitor payment method
  • Ship product when payment is received
  • Pack product properly
  • Insure the product
  • Get a tracking number
  • Use a reputable carrier
    • USPS
    • UPS
    • FedEx
    • DHL
buyer and seller feedback
Buyer and Seller Feedback
  • Use the auction site process for buyer and seller feedback
  • Feedback is important to create a trustworthy online auction community
  • Trust will build sales
activities for getting started
Activities for Getting Started!
  • In group discussions, identify free local computer and e-mail access resources
    • Churches, public libraries, schools
    • Ask friends and relatives for assistance
    • Observe how to use e-mail and the Internet
  • Explore online Internet auctions with group members
  • Perform searches for products you might make
    • Monitor auction activity
    • Determine shipping options and costs
    • Calculate realistic prices for products to be sold
keeping track recordkeeping and internet transactions
Keeping Track – Recordkeeping and Internet Transactions
  • Basic financial skills needed
    • Basic recordkeeping
    • Sales tax
    • Income tax
    • How to get paid?


Simple accounting approaches of keeping records

  • Use IRS Schedule C as template
  • Organize a simple ledger
sales taxes
Sales Taxes
  • The state tax authority determines current policies
    • Sales tax may be state, county, or city specific
    • Most states do not require the Internet seller to pay sales tax on out-of-state sales
  • Local extension workers may be able to help with setting up a sales tax account if necessary
personal income taxes
Personal Income Taxes
  • Profits from e-Commerce sales are subject to taxes
    • Federal, State, and Local income taxes
    • Self-employment taxes
  • Portion of e-Commerce revenues should be set aside in a bank account
  • Forms to become familiar with
    • IRS Form 1040 Schedule C
    • IRS Schedule SE
    • State income tax form (state-dependent)
how to get paid the need for a local bank account and third party payment system
How to Get Paid: The Need for a Local Bank Account and Third Party Payment System
  • You must develop trust in credit and banking systems
  • Bank checking account is critical for e-Commerce selling
  • PayPal third party payment account is strongly advised
    • Provides a safe and secure method to purchase goods
    • Speeds up the seller’s receipt of funds from a sale
  • Bank and PayPal fees should be taken into consideration when setting product prices
activities to develop basic financial skills
Activities to Develop Basic Financial Skills
  • Financial Literacy Discussions
    • Discuss feelings about banks and payment systems
    • Discuss current methods of handling personal finances
    • Discuss how to use credit properly and the cost of interest
    • The group should take the Rutgers Financial Fitness Quiz at http://njaes.rutgers.edu/money/ffquiz
  • Discuss the need for basic recordkeeping
    • Work in groups to review the IRS Schedule C (1040 form)
    • Discuss why good record are important to the success of any business, even small home-based businesses
get started
Get Started
  • Examples have been provided
  • Your rural life skills can become marketable products
  • Opportunities have been identified
  • Procedures to follow have been stated
  • Financial management issues have been addressed
  • Now it’s up to you to take control of the process and bring a product to the e-Commerce marketplace
  • What is your next step?
  • How can we help?

Every educational program can be improved. We want your judgment of how much this program has helped you understand how you can create products to be marketed through the Internet and how you can place them for sale on the Internet. Please take a few moments to fill out the questionnaire that will be provided by your extension educator. Your opinions will help us toward our goal of continual improvement so that we can serve you better.