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Electronic Commerce: Starting Points

Starting Points

Click on the image below for a larger version.

For a brief tutorial, browse E-Commerce Definition and Solutions from CIO Magazine.

If you need convincing, here are the classic 20 Reasons to Put Your Business on the Web.

A more thorough starting point is The Ultimate Guide to eCommerce Software from Zapier, which provides a step-by-step guide for doing business on the Internet.

To answer the persistent question: "How do I find customers?" refer to this extensive guide to resources from Help Scout: Customer Acquisition Strategies for Entrepreneurs.

You can register to request a copy of the following guidebooks from HubSpot:

Many other reports are available from Shopify: Ecommerce Guides

Marketing Model

Before you begin the online marketing process, have you analyzed your organization and its environment using some standard analysis technique, such as SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)? Then, consider the following 7P's, extended from the traditional 4P's model:

1. Producer

Does your page convey clearly the nature of your organization? Should a mission statement or statement of purpose(s) be on your Webpage?

2. Purchasers

Do you need a special page or special features on your site for ethnic or foreign language groups? Is your page accessible to the disabled?

3. Product

Which of your existing products or services should be featured on your page? Which cannot be delivered in whole or in part via your page?

4. Price

How much can your organization afford for the Web site? Consider site design and maintenance, as well as Web server costs.

5. Place

What new products or services are made possible for the first time by your page? Could any of your clients use your information 24 hours/7 days per week, even when your offices are closed? Consider posting answers to FAQs.

6. Promotion

How does your message have to be adapted to the Web environment? Is the Web the best or only place to send this message to this client group? You still need newsletters, press releases, direct-mail pieces, telephone, fax, and personal contacts. Is your Web address on all your promotional pieces, business cards, and stationery?

7. Probing

Is someone in your company answering, noting, and analyzing email and telephone messages received from Web site contacts? Instant market research!

[Based on: Fine, Seymour H. Marketing the Public Sector: Promoting the Causes of Public and Nonprofit Agencies. Transaction, 1992. (DANA HF 5415.122 .F56)]

Domain Name Registration

Apart from the familiar .com, .org, and .net domains, there are several top-level domains (TLDs) to consider: .biz, .info, .mobi, and .pro. The Registry Listing for these TLDs (and their sponsors, if any) is available from ICANN, the Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers.

You can also register a domain name with more characters than before - 63 characters instead of just 26 - and you might want to consider registering your domain name in other countries.

Website Hosting

Start with the Ultimate Guide to Creating a Small Business Website by Samir Balwani.

If you plan on proceeding with a business Website, read How to Choose a Web Host.

Then browse the many categories of Web hosting companies at before you select your Web host.

The Top Web Hosting Companies in the U.S. is tracked by WebHosting.Info, with statistics on domains transferred in and out of each Web host.

Several free Web hosting services include:

All of the above sites also offer fee-based services, with a design gallery and customized options. Other fee-based services are listed by's eCommerce Web Hosting.

If you plan to use WordPress, find inexpensive themes and templates at ThemeForest. Other design templates, graphics, and images may be found at GraphicRiver.

Business Librarian

Roberta Tipton's picture
Roberta Tipton
Roberta L. Tipton
Business Librarian
Public Administration Librarian
Interim Nursing Librarian
The John Cotton Dana Library

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