Some of the reasons why a company needs to be on the Internet are the following:
• Expanding Market Reach
One of the major advantages of the Internet is its global availability. If you have a small company it is quite simple to expand the market reach beyond your geographic location and your current customer segments. Although this may relieve some of thepressure you experience in your current target market it will mean new pressure from competitors who are already on the Internet and are trying to get into your markets.
Kenny’s, a small bookstore in Galway in the west of Ireland has been online since 1994, and was the second bookstore in the whole world to go online. Their initial prompt came from tourists who were interested in books about Irelandor by Irish authors. For the most part these were simply not available in their home countries. In order to improve on their direct mail service, Kenny’s started offering on-line catalogues and email ordering. This has been so successful that today they claim to be the largest seller of books about Ireland in the world. Not earth shattering or Amazon.com, but it provides them with greatlyincreased revenues for a small allocation of resources, leveraging retail space every hour of every day of the year. In 2000 Kenny’s won the prestigious Irish Exporters Association / DHL Exporter of the Year award.
Another important goal, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) is to gain more visibility. The Internet allows a company to present itself at very lowcost. The use of one-to-one marketing tools allows the customer to see a personalised view of your products, services and information. Through co-branding, you are also able to present your products and services on other web sites for zero or minimal cost. An example might be a local car hire company linking with an airline’s destination page. Generating visibility is vital for every company. Thebetter known your company is, the more people will be interested in doing business with you.
On the Internet every company that offers goods, services or information is reduced to the same size: to the size of the customer's screen. Therefore it is easy for instance for a small online translation service to compete with a large one. The customer will see differences in pricing, service and theway the company presents itself on the Web, but no other.
Increasing responsiveness to customers and partners is very important to tie customers to a company. Being responsive gives customers the feeling that they are treated well by the company. Logistics operators give customers the possibility to check the location of their shipments at any time. For example An Postallows you to track your posts and parcels on their website. Dell Computers allow adopt this process to check delivery time of PCs. Although this feature nowadays is becoming common, it was a revolutionary idea only a few years ago. Instead of calling your logistics partner and asking what happened to your goods, you can just go to their web site and check yourself, which means a time and costreduction for yourself (and an even greater one for the shipping company).
Responsiveness means also that when you give out e-mail addresses to your customers, somebody needs to answer these e-mails fast and competently. If they do not know the answer to the questions, they should know whom to ask within the company. As a rule of thumb, e-mail should be responded within one working day, even if youdo not have the answers ready. Software exists that can send a short reply stating that you have received the e-mail and that you will try to help to resolve the queries. Offering sensitive real time information to partners via a secured Extranet (restricted access to supplier and customers only) is also very important.
• New services
Introducing new services in traditional markets is...