One of the most popular Internet myths claims that building an online store is easy: All the customer has to do is point, click, and buy. In reality, successful e-commerce is far more complex and unlike any other web site project you have tackled in the past. Before that first cyber buck transfers into your bank account, you need to do considerable research and planning.
As you begin brainstorming, consider all the issues needed to be addressed, before by constructing a successful online business plan. You can imagine a real company that suddenly decides to regard the welcome announcement of e-commerce.
Imagine you are working for the Ford Motor Company, the nations leading supplier of heavy-duty trucks. Your CEO is catching up on the past several months of business journals and the spark plugs start firing. The screaming headlines cannot be ignored: Consumer E-Commerce Will Jump To 26 Billion By 2002 and U.S. Online Business Trade Will Soar to 1.3 Trillion By 2003. Most importantly, Chevy has rumored to begin its own e-business plan. So the big wig meets with the board of directors, and after an agonizing long deliberation, you are told that they want open in six weeks. After all there are millions of people out there building award winning web sites. They are making a plethora of cash to pay for college.
Immediately, you go register the domain name, for the company. Unexpected constraints of e-commerce can hit you unexpectedly. Your Business Plan will save you redevelopment time down the road. Planning your companies progress will also help you make educated decisions as you choose the right e-business solution for your company.
Many facts of your business must be stated in your Business Plan. You must determine exactly what you need to be competitive online. Determining your strategies can help you more easily select the right setup for your ebusiness. You will need some software to help you manage your products, your promotions, your customers, and their orders. You may also need some additional programs to handle the tax, shipping, and payment processing of your orders.
A number of off the shelf solutions have grown over the past few years that give you these core features and allow you to plug-in other software modules to handle the complexities of taxation, the varieties of shipping options, and all the popular forms of payment.
Solutions like Intershops ePages, iCats Lemonade Stand, or Yahoos Stores provide pre-fabricated storefronts that are ready. Just pick a design and fill in your products and you are ready for business. Intershop 3.0 and iCat Professional, allow you to change the pre-made storefronts to your own personal look and feel. These programs also allow you to extend the web page setups to alter the features and behaviors of the storefront. Some solutions rely on other e-commerce software from CyberCash or OpenMarket for payment processing, Taxware for tax calculations, and Tandata for up to date shipping information.
In your business plan, you need to construct a requirements document. Get the attention of all the corporate departments involved, and exchange company links between the companies. This step is vital to the success of the business. Through this process, peer companies can evaluate your business efficiency and help you become a part of a successful network of ebusinesses. All ideas and potential conflicts are confronted early. It is hard to know which technology solution is good for you; until you have a detailed list of requirements you can compare the solutions against. This way, you can choose an e-commerce platform that will deliver your goals to the online customers. In constructing a Business Plan, you should also take the chance to plan for where the company is going to be in 2, 5, and 10 years. Through a detailed Business Plan, you can set your solution up correctly now. When your company grows and expands its range for service, you can simply add to the original foundation.
More specifically, your Business Plan should answer the questions of how the products will be presented. You must determine how you would expect your customers to shop online. Customers search very cautiously when looking to order an automobile. The cars


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