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PROFILE GHULAM M. BALOCH
COLUMN FOR THE RECORD
CORPORATE PROFILE NCR: THE SUCCESS STORY
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY E-BUSINESS
POLITICS & POLICY EDUCATION FOR ALL

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E-BUSINESS

 

Setting new trends in the business

By Dr. A KHAN
June 02 - 08, 2003

 

 

An online business on Internet is doing e-business. E-commerce is the business transaction on the Internet. Internet is an interactive media and allows bidirectional activities... a basic need of the business processes. With improvement in the communication process and its effect on the computer programming, site development and data structuring; the Internet medium is becoming more useful for the business world. Now the substantial part of business can be transferred to the online activity. This helps business continue 24 hours of a day and 365 days a year. The volume of business can be increased through machine activity. It should, however, be clear that processing of the order can be done mostly by human being.

Internet can facilitate business in following ways cost effectively:

MARKETING THE PRODUCTS; RECEIVE ORDERS; PROCESS PAYMENTS.

All the above activities are processed online and save lot of time, effort and manpower to the business. Saving in these activities is saving in cost. The activities are independent of the geographical limitation for businesses and customers. We won't like to enter into the legalities of the issue and restrict ourselves to the available technological facilities.

After the above three activities, order remain to be processed. This is a physical phenomenon, however, now order shipped can again be located online on the Internet if the shipping company is also involved in e-business activity.

THE BUSINESS AND INTERNET

The business can receive orders through telephone, of course, from any part of the world. What is the difference? Let us start with an example activity.

 

 

1. Customer needs to know about your product and telephone No. This is possible through word of mouth, familiarity or through some advertising media.
2. On telephone customer needs exploration about the product he is going to purchase
3. Someone is required to respond to the customer on phone.
4. There might be accent or language barrier to overcome.
5. More persons are required to respond to the customers' queries.
6. Payment can be processed by a separate activity of the phone call.

All these activities are time consuming, costly and needing additional manpower in certain cases.

Processing of order upto shipping is a separate process and ends with the successful delivery of the shipment to the customer.

HOW INTERNET HELPS

1. Customer visits your site, look for the required item along with the price, requisite detail, photograph of the product to satisfy customer's query. Customer e-mails or chats if further assistance is required.
2. Customer places an order along with; say credit card details. No overseas call is necessary even if customer is a foreigner.
3. The payment is processed online with possible confirmation of payment.

All these activities are done on the Internet, which is a cheap interactive' medium to address this need.

Order is placed with proper processing department for shipment.

All the above activities can be executed in parallel for numerous customers. So there is possibility of receiving multiple orders in a single minute for processing for shipment. Imagine the increase in the volume of business.

The processing for shipment procedure should, therefore, have to be organized accordingly. It is further possible to divide shipping orders according to set criteria or number to geographically dispersed locations. You may choose to place these orders in the employee's mailbox to be accessed from their home. They may process the orders from the comfort of their homes to save time, cost of transportation to office and even office or costly business space that is required by the employee and goods to be shipped.

Idea of having agents for shipment processing is more feasible. As order can be placed to the e-mail box of the agent, it is possible to process directly from home. E-business, therefore, offers new opportunities. Due to reduction in cost of this electronic processing, cost of overhead expenses can be reduced resulting in producing cheaper products to be offered to the customer, a major reason for buying online.

In short, Internet is a business tool, mostly used for marketing and sales. Internet, however, can bring about improvement with in the business. An organized use of well defined job distribution enhances business in a big way. It reduces the administrative time and cost and allows for better organized business. Administratively distributing the job may help in reducing the expensive space required for execution of the business. For example: shifting the shipment dispatch process, to home of agents or employees. Internet is everywhere and communication can be made irrespective of the physical places.

HOW TO GET STARTED WITH INTERNET

Internet is a fast moving medium, e-business, however, must be properly thought out before setting up. We will look into the details of needed items for proper setup. There are practically little barriers for entry. No rent is charged for opening a shop in the cyber-world. Your business name can be extended to global audience with least expenses on advertising. The site can be easily linked with other businesses.

Following few things will be needed to start with: A Computer, modem, browser software, high speed link to Internet and an Internet service provider ISP. You will need following more things in place to start up. Some explanation will be given to clarify.

DOMAIN NAME

It is your address on the Internet. It is better to have your own domain name. Setup site with AOL, Geocities or CompuServe forces you to incorporate their name into your address. Like; www.members.aol.com/yourname

Such names are called sub domain names. It is better to have your domain name like; www.vourname.com

Not only, it looks good, it is professional as well.

DOMAIN NAME SELECTION

If the business already exist it is good to have same name online. You can pay for more than one name for the same site. It helps in locating the site in case of typing mistakes by the visitors.

PLANNING OBJECTIVES

It is necessary to be clear about the objective of taking the business online and the expected benefits. Web sites for business are designed accordingly:

Increase Sales
Build Trust
Generate Greater Brand Awareness
Offer Improved Customer Service
Provide up-to-date relevant information
Overseas Business Expansion
A point of contact for offline customers

Web Site Development
Creating a web site can be done through following options.
Use an outside consulting firm
Build web site with raw HTML code
Use of software that converts the HTML into web site

 

 

OUTSIDE CONSULTING FIRM

It is the easiest way to get somebody else does the job of creating web site for you. Consulting firm does have more experience of coding and designing sites. However, it might be expensive from small business point of view.

HTML CODE

The cheapest option is to learn HTML; the coding language to develop Web sites. It is easier to learn. Write the plain text. Think how it should look. Insert HTML tags for the Web browser to display text, images and link other pages. Following points help in understanding the HTML to make use of it for Web site development. Once the site is developed and properly understood it will help you to change it for the better at your discretion. Browsers allow you to see the HTML commands for a particular site. You can change them to suite your needs.

1. HTML instructions are formatting information and links.
2. To indicate the start of tag and stop of tags a pair of capital letters within angle brackets are used e.g. if you want to put some text in, bold, you can put <B> at the start of the text and </B> at the end of the text you want to see as bold.
3. Tags are responsible for the display of information on the web site. The command of the HTML which within the angle brackets are not seen on the site.

WEB DESIGNING SOFTWARE

Web design software allows you to build a web site without learning HTML. This software cost money still much less than the consulting firm. Software packages offer design templates for ready made design futures. Some of the available packages are; FrontPage from Microsoft, Dreamweaver from Macromedia and Go Live from Adobe.

Getting used to package is also time consuming job. It is better to stick to one package to get the complete mastery. Productivity of site development and improvement will be more this way.

PROMOTING SITE

When the site is online, next step required to attract visitors to your site. Make sure that your site has sufficient attraction for the visitors to visit repeatedly, to reinforce your marketing efforts. Registering with the reputed search engines is one of the beginnings of marketing campaign. Others are reciprocal links to site of common interest, online media like journals, news letters etc. and newsgroups. You need to get in touch through e-mail for example with the editors of the journals, news letters or Webmasters.

BENEFITS OF E-MAIL

E-mail is cheap and convenient media to keep in touch with the people around globe over 24 hours a day. Because it is more convenient, it is required to be more organized for proper benefit. It is suggested for business to:

1. Frequently asked questions can be placed in a library in order. Cutting and passing the relevant answers will help to respond to the customer query faster.
2. Automatic response software, mostly available through the ISPs' helps. Mail boxes for varied type of messages are setup to respond to different reply for each mail box. Market software order ways to respond to numerous separate responses to email coming to your mail box.

Best way is individual responses, if possible.

 

 

BUYING ONLINE

Customer needs to know a few things to confidently buy online. This must be clearly visible on your site.

1. The cost of the product along with the taxes must be clearly written for evaluation of the cost. Customer wants to know; how much a thing cost him online and if he is benefited by paying less this way.
2. Time of delivery must also be clearly mentioned and must be met seriously to let customer visit again and speak about to others to visit your site.

BUSINESS TO BUSINESS ACTIVITY

After completing shipment process; it is possible to send a message to the courier company to pick up the shipment and put it on its way to customer This is a business to business communication. This type of communication can be further extended to the raw material supplier, banks, even government for submitting and receiving requisite data and information. If this data or information is required on paper only, it is already transmitted through electronic means for printing at destination end. If, however, it is information for a physical activity the message is also transferred for the same.

INTRANET

Intranet is a small Internet secluded from rest of the world. Access is limited to the employees of the organization. There is no difference in the technology used in intranet and Internet. Working in a localized network gives security, better e-mail management facility. The cost is reduced by using free Internet software. The limitation is localized network, which, however, be eliminated by a gate way to Internet.

Mobile devices are now taking the benefit of Internet, e-mail connecting home, business and offices through PDA, mobile phones etc. beyond the confine of wires. This is setting new trends in executing business; e-business.