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5 Basics of an E-Commerce Business

What Is E-commerce?

Put simply, E-commerce means the exchange of goods and services over the World Wide Web. It can include any business transaction done between individuals and business, whether buying or selling of traditional or digital goods, or transmitting funds for services.

Is it right for me?

On the plus side, e-commerce businesses require minimal capital and effort while enabling you to reach a much wider audience. On the negative side, you need to be able to update your online business with the fast-changing demands of the e-commerce economy.

Before you consider jumping on the e-commerce bandwagon, you need to consider the following:

1. Niche:

With millions of web pages and more being added every minute, your online business can drown away into nothingness, unless you find a niche for yourself. Whether you are a musician, caterer, writer or an artist, there is demand for your services, but to be successful you need to concentrate your energies on your chosen niche.

2. Marketplace:

Once you have decided your niche product, you need to decide where to sell it. You can either choose to sell your products on an online marketplace (similar to your neighbourhood supermarket) or set up your own blog or web site to sell it (think of it as an independent store). Either way, you need to make sure that it is easy to browse and provides a smooth shopping experience.

3. Payment Process:

All of us have waited in long lines at a supermarket at some point of time. E-shoppers however lack the patience to do so, which is just one of the reasons why they shop online. If your payment process takes ages, or if it isn’t secure, you will lose customers, money and worse than that ‘trust’ and unlike the real world, you will never be able to mitigate the effects of even one negative review. If you decide to sell through an online marketplace like eBay, your worries about payment processing are taken care of by them, but if you are selling through your own blog or Web site, then you must invest in a reliable shopping cart software/vendor.

4. Customer Support and Delivery:

The cliche Customer is King applies much more to an e-commerce business model than to a traditional business model. Online shoppers are technology savvy and research thoroughly before buying products. One unsatisfied customer, one negative review is all it will take for you lose a lot of future business dollars.

5. Marketing:

Growing an E-commerce business takes an entirely different marketing approach. You will need to be savvy about Digital Marketing Techniques, Search Engine Optimization and keep up with online trends to drive traffic to your online store and convert them to customers.

Best Phone For Small Business Owners Who Need To Multitask

Need a phone that can multitask almost as much as you? The type of business you do and the amount of calls you have to handle will determine what kind of phone is needed. Office telephone systems are not cheap and when you purchase a system you want to get the most bang for your buck. Having an efficient telephone system will greatly improve the way you do business.

As a small business consulting coach, I can confidently tell you that effective communication is at the heart of any small business. Improper call management will definitely hinder the growth of a business and it is seen as extremely unprofessional. Implementing a small business telephone system will help solve the communication problem. The disadvantage of using the regular telephones with call waiting is that you can easily lose a call. And it is impossible to have more than 2-3 lines.

If you are in the market for a small business telephone system read on for a few ideas that just might work for your business.

1. The best telephone system in an office would have to be a PBX system. It can be purchased with up to 60 or more phones and can be bought to handle as many lines as necessary. You see them all the time in doctor’s offices and hotels.

These are the original multi-tasking telephone systems. Now they can be connected to the Internet and you can actually talk through your computer. Just make sure that when you buy web hosting for your company, you buy enough bandwidth to allow for heavy usages on the system. In addition to making and receiving phone calls, these phones have great features like voicemail, dial by name directories and different ring tone for each line.

2. If you are not in the office much and your job demands that you and your employees are out in the field then the iPhone is a great tool for multitasking and now they have the 3G that can also take credit card payments with the right attachment.

3. Nextel has a phone system that is great as well. These phones can be used as walkie-talkies as well as cell phones. The walkie-talkie feature lets you use it in close proximity for site to site co-ordination, this feature save your air time minutes.

4. Getting an office system that will allow for hands free operation, is a great way to multi-task in an office environment. You can find these online and most can be adapted to the phones you already have.

Finding the right multi-tasking phone is as easy as clicking your mouse and doing a search. There are so many great phones, from the iPhone to the blackberry that you will just have to compare them and pick out what would make better use of your business dollar.

What an Energy Broker Does, and How They Can Save Your Business Dollars

So what does an energy broker do, and how can they potentially save you money in your business?

If your business is spending thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars a year on energy, whether it be gas or electricity, there is a great deal of money that you could be saving on your energy spend by simply allowing an expert to negotiate the terms of your energy purchasing.

How You Traditionally Buy Energy

Traditionally when you purchase energy, you do it through a retailer. That retailer has a markup in order to make a profit in their business, but there is room for negotiation if you have the right information and someone with the right skills and knowledge to deal on your behalf.

Energy markets are somewhat like the stock market, in that energy prices are prone to fluctuations, sometimes very large fluctuations, which means if you purchase your energy at the wrong time, and are locked into a contract, that it can have major cost implications for your business.

But what if you had a way purchase your electricity or gas, but have an energy broker watching the ‘market’ so that you can purchase at the best time? A broker can also building a profile of your energy usage to take to energy retailers in order to get you the best deal.

The Role of the Energy Broker

Different businesses have different energy requirements, so some businesses may prefer to lock in their energy price with a contract, while others prefer to have more flexibility in their approach. Either way, with an energy specialist working with you, your purchase options can be explored and the broker can garner significant savings in several key areas;

• Getting you a better deal with Australian energy retailers

• Negotiating on your behalf

• Preparing ‘critical load’ data for energy retailers

Energy markets are complicated, as a business owner or manager, you may not have the expertise or knowledge in the nuances of the market to be able to negotiate the best pricing and structure for your business energy needs.

A better result can be achieved by someone who is an energy management expert, without you having to feel like you need to understand the intricacies of the marketplace. Your broker can advise you on both how to best purchase energy for your specific needs, as well as finding the best timing within a given time frame, so that you are buying at the best price available.