On the net, these are the words that your store will never have to say. Your customers can shop and spend money on your site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When you are asleep in your bed they are purchasing your products.
Sounds great doesn't it? Millions are being lured to start a business on the Internet by these same words, and the thoughts of getting rich overnight (or at least while they are sleeping).
You've heard these words before haven't you? Probably have... but what are you doing to really take advantage of this truly amazing opportunity? Obviously something isn't right because the business-to-consumer (b-to-c) market online is still the pits.
It is estimated that as much as $6 billion in sales will be lost this holiday season alone due to customers aborting sales before the process is complete. What is it that causes them to leave? More importantly what can you do to fix it?
I say "fix it" because obviously something is broke...like possibly YOU if you don't do something about it! I've heard things like "consumer confidence is low", "potential consumers lack the knowledge necessary to purchase online", and "they're lacking Internet savvy".
Low confidence is caused by fear, probably fear of the unknown. They lack knowledge, savvy, experience, and education in relation to computers and the Internet.
I know this may sound far fetched here...but it seems to me like...we need to educate them!! What vehicle do we have to educate these confidence-lacking potential customers? Our websites, our newsletters, our forums and chat rooms, that's what!
Your website needs to train, educate, and teach even better than it sells. There is so much emphasis on making our websites the best selling machine known to mankind, but what about making it the best instructor around?
Business-to-business (b-to-b) sales dominate the online marketplace right now, and are projected by Forrester Research to hit $1.3 trillion by the year 2003. Obviously they are doing something right. Or are they? What if the truth turned out to be the fact that both sides already have knowledge of this new sales channel, both sides are Internet savvy, both sides know the truth to the horror stories of security and such. They know what they want and they know how to go out and get it.
Now back to those poor consumers. They probably know what they want, but do they have a clue of how to go out and get it?
I'm going to use myself as an example for a minute. I've done some purchasing online, even saved a decent amount of money this holiday season. I know my way around computers, networks, and the Internet. I can program, create websites from scratch, fix things when they are broken, and I even do my best to be as knowledgeable of Internet ways as I possibly can.
Guess what happened to me a couple of times while shopping online...I got confused by the ordering process! (Should I be admitting that?) No problem, I just turn on my trouble-shooting skills and figure it out. (Phew..I redeemed myself!)
But what about those poor, unsuspecting consumers? What knowledge pool do they dip into when they run across a problem? Its called disconnect, power-down, and head to the mall, thats what.
So what are we going to do? I say let's formulate a plan. Remember the b-to-b stats from above? Let's just jump into b-to-b for a year or two until the b-to-c market catches up, then jump back over when we have consumers that know their way around, know how to find us, find the products that they want, add them to their shopping cart, head for the checkout, and whip out the credit card! That's the kind of visitors I want to have on my website!
Or, we can take advantage of the fact that many of the people that read these reports head in the b-to-b direction to follow the crowd. Let them go. This gives you some time to figure out what exactly customers are looking for to get them to spend money online, and time to educate them on the process.
If you are among the first to figure out how to fix the problems with your site, doesn't it seem likely that you would have an easier time dominating your market? Besides, as the technology drives faster, more robust Internet connections, faster PCs, and more secure environments, don't you want to be on the front lines ready to accept their money?
Or would you rather follow those crowds and then try to figure out how to jump back into the b-to-c industry when it starts to look better?
Think about it, a majority of the companies online that are super successful have been on the Net since before it really became popular. They were by themselves with little competition, and at a time when people felt that the Internet just wasn't quite there yet. Being a front-runner increases your chances for survival online.
Another thought...there are billions being spent by the 'big boys' to draw customers online. You need to position yourself to be there and be prepared to accept those customers. Profit from their advertising budgets.
And, if you played a part in your visitor's education, who do you think they will be loyal to?
Formulate a plan, figure out what is wrong, educate your customers...and you just might never have to hear the words "cleanup on isle twelve!" again!
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About the Author:
Chuck McCullough is the owner of AffiliateMatch.com offering FREE articles, tips, hints, and real-world advice on how to make money with your website. Visit his site or join his FREE newsletter, The AffiliateMatch Informer by sending a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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