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Webonomics

.. formation. As long as consumers are compensated for disclosing their data, as long as they are properly informed about how such data will be used, consumers can decide for themselves what information to give out and to whom (91). Principle 4: Consumers Will Shop Online Only for Information-Rich Products Not only do consumers choose whom to give their personal information to, but they also choose what information they receive from the Web. Many consumers will look on the Web for what is called information-rich products, ones that are wrapped in sheaves of facts, news, knowledge, wisdom, and advice (92). Some of the products that are considered information-rich include: music, books, computers, cars, software, travel packages, houses, and gift items.

When consumers are debating on buying an information-rich product they will go to many links to seek out the best buy. Some of the ways that consumers get help in making a decision are to ask advice, research the product and ask friends for recommendations; all of which can be done on the Web. In order for companies to entice consumers to buy products on the Web, they must supply consumers with sites that have facts, news, knowledge, and advice about products (116). Many companies that are following this route are seeing an increase in the usage of their sites. One example is Virtual Vineyards, an online wine store.

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The site contains valuable information on the quality, taste, ratings, reviews, and recommendations of good wine (97). The site is successful because of its ability to convey specialized information. Once consumers discover and trust the value of the information that they are receiving, they will become a return visitor. Thus showing that information-rich sites do have an impact on the consumer-to-company relationship. The idea of shopping the Web for information-rich products will never replace the experience of in-person shopping. Instead, it will force stores to add entertainment to the whole shopping experience. Adding entertainment to stores is an attractive way of distinguishing themselves from online shopping (105).

Physical stores and virtual stores do not have to be split they can work off of each other. By the two working in tandem and supporting each other through the process of winning over customers, ringing up sales, and maintaining brand loyalty they can help compensate for the weakness of the other (105) Principle 5: Self-Service Provides for the Highest Level of Customer Comfort Self-service is becoming mandatory in many industriesas consumers demand increased comfort, control, and convenience (137). A bank that builds a user-friendly, graphical user interface on the Web can invite millions of consumers and business clients to help themselves to a wide array of financial services. A bank that fails to design such an interface will not be in business for very long. Like the Web itself, the bank of the future will know no borders in the global “marketspace”. Yet, such an entity can forge intimate relationships with individuals, reaching into your home and taking your money with the nicest smile that software can simulate.

When you compare the way people bank today with the way they used to bank, you see an enormous difference. In the olden days, consumers chose their bank based on where it was located. You had to conform to what is known as”bankers hours”. Now, automated teller machines (ATMs) have got the public in the habit of servicing themselves. We now see that the focus of choosing a bank has changed to the location of automated teller machines of the bank. The banks tend to view the ATMs like a blessing. ATMs reduce staff, resources, and service costs. Suddenly, local banks saw a whole new world of opportunities, while also experiencing an increase in competition. The first bank to wholeheartedly embrace banking on the Web was Wells Fargo.

The San Francisco-based bank actually jumped into the online water back in 1990, with an online banking service on Prodigy. Customers could check balances on their PC screens and transfer funds between accounts. As the growth of the Web exploded, the bank suddenly became keenly aware of the demand for such online services. By the summer of 1996, the number of Wells Fargo customers doing banking online shot up tremendously. Through consumers utilizing the Web for self-services, they establish a high level of comfort through convenience (i.e.

banking after hours, banking from remote locations, and solving privacy issues). Principle 6: “Value-Based Currencies” Enable You to Create Your Own Monetary System One of the biggest questions concerning electronic commerce has to do with how people will pay for whatever they purchase online. Several different electronic currency systems, known as digital cash, are being marketed as answers to this question. Most of those payment systems are doomed to failure because the U.S. Treasury, or any other countrys treasury department, for that matter, does not back these new forms of currency.

They are not even legal tender for all debts public and private. Companies of all kinds would do well to create their own monetary systems, offering loyal customers points that can later be redeemed for goods and services. The Web will be the place where such points can be earned, bought, sold, traded, and redeemed. Telephone companies have already jumped into this game. AT&T, with its True Rewards program, offers one point for every dollar spent on long-distance calls.

Digital cash, the other form of Web money, promises security and flexibility when purchasing products in cyberspace. The problem with these new forms of payment is that they are not needed. Several of these digital cash start-ups will likely go out of business in the next few years due to lack of consumer acceptance. For buying products on the Web, the current choices are just fine. Any online currency system must establish trust.

Not only between banks and merchants, as todays credit card companies do, but also between individuals, just as todays coins and bills do. This fact means that anyone in the business of winning the trust of consumers could get into the digital cash business. Principle 7: Trusted Brand Names Matter Even More on the Web Brand names are not here to bombard us. They have a benefit. When you as a consumer have many choices and limited time, it pays to be loyal to brands you trust.

A brand can serve as a mark of quality, of something familiar. As such, they can actually save you time and aggravation. Reach for that comfortable brand name, and you do not have to bother sorting through all the other choices, all the noise and clutter in the marketplace. Before you can build brand equity, you have to start building brand awareness. Strong brand images are becoming more difficult and expensive to establish in the first place. TV audiences are fragmenting into smaller and smaller caps, with prices going though the roof for the rare mass audiences that do gather during the Super Bowl, the Olympics, or the very top rated TV shows.

Similarly, the noise level on the Web is getting higher and higher. “Every day it gets tougher to establish a new brand name,” says Mark Kvamme, chairman and CEO of the CKS Group, a multimedia-marketing firm in Cupertino, California (156). A well-known brand name can serve as a beacon on the Web, in a sense casting its glow in all directions and compelling loyal customers to come toward the light. “On the Web, brands must become technologies,” says Less Ottolenghi, director of emerging technologies for Holiday Inn. The Web is the perfect place to catapult a trusted brand name beyond the original products for which it is already known.

Brand names that evoke a certain sensibility, core competency, or comfort factor can be used to sell almost anything on the Web. Ultimately, companies that establish a strong affinity with customers can establish an online community of interest around their brands. Principle 8: Even the Smallest Business Can Compete in the Web’s Global “Marketspace” The start-up costs associated with a new business in today’s world are exorbitant; this fact alone hinders many entrepreneurs from entering in the first place. But, with the advent of the Internet and the evolving of e-commerce from it, almost any individual can start their own company on the Web with the normal business costs either greatly reduced or eliminated completely. There are three elements of business that have changed when making the transition from a traditional business to e-commerce. First, we no longer rely on going to the mall or department stores to fulfill our needs.

This “infrastructure” of physical buildings has been replaced by cyberspace. We need only to connect to it to be able to purchase Macadamia nuts from Hawaii, coffee from Colombia, or oranges from Florida. Second, because of the computer itself, there is no need to have face-to-face contact; the computer screen has replaced this. However, many times this interaction with the computer leads to face-to-face contact. And lastly, what is being purchased has changed drastically. No longer are we just buying and selling actual goods, but we are also in the big business of selling and trading information.

The Internet has enabled all sizes and types of organizations to compete globally. In addition, the Internet allows small corporations to act large and large corporations to act as if they are small (i.e. agile, flexible, and responsive like a small company). International borders have been eliminated; tariffs, quotas, and restrictions do not apply to goods purchased over the Web. And companies like UPS, FedEx, and DHL enable businesses to ship goods across international waters to any country in the world, which eliminates any paperwork that the business has to tend with as they take care of all of the paperwork for us. The global competition on the Web not only brings products to people, but it also brings people together.

All over the world there are people from almost every country connected to the”marketspace” of the Web. Even though these connections exist there is a huge gap in Internet penetration between industrialized nations such as United States and the developing economies of the world (189). Statistics taken from 1996 are astounding, but are nothing less than expected. There is a direct correlation to the economic status of a country and the number of citizens per host of that country. A host is a PC or mainframe of some sort that allows high-speed connections to the Internet. For example, the United States boasts 70 citizens per host while the industrialized countries of Western Europe follow behind. Looking at less industrialized countries like South and Latin America where Venezuela has 18,026 citizens per host or Nicaragua that has 29,787 citizens per host we see a huge gap.

As expected, African and Middle Eastern countries have extremely poor Internet numbers. As such, South Africa leads the region with 932 citizens per host, and Uganda with 337,414 citizens per host. Yet, the countries with the highest numbers are those countries with the highest populations, such as China. China has a ratio of 500,000 citizens per host. Furthermore, India has the highest (worst) ratio with one million citizens per host.

With almost all countries competing for connections to the web another issue to look at is that of the language barrier. Today, English is the dominant language on the Web. Yet, it is imperative that we cater to those of different languages. Otherwise, we limit ourselves to where our information can go and simultaneously be understood. Many sites now are being translated into different languages, and there is also translation software available that can be plugged into Web browsers.

In addition to language barriers, we must also contend with cultural barriers. As Schwartz points out, a perfect example is pizza. In the U.S., the most popular topping for pizza is pepperoni, but in Japan, it is squid and in Australia, it is eggs! We must continue to cross cultural barriers to survive and succeed in other countries economically. Principle 9: Agility Rules – Web Sites Must Continually Adapt to the Market In today’s complex and rapidly changing world, to succeed there is no time for web industries to rest on their laurels. It is all about being flexible, and being able to adapt quickly in such a rapidly changing environment.

Today’s sites must be able to easily recognize when a particular aspect of a site is not working, and have the ability to adapt. One of the most important aspects of change in technology is how these sites react to it – can they upgrade without “threatening to shake and rattle the very ground of an industry’s competitive landscape”(193)? But, one must also constantly be on the cutting edge (or close to it) to remain competitive in this environment. This means paying attention to what consumers are looking for and are interested in. In addition, it would be wise to update your site by adding new features on a regular basis. As we know, the Internet is geared towards information. Now technology is changing the way we receive this information for advertisements – push or pull. Traditionally it was a push environment with TV, radio, newspapers, but the Web is on the pull edge. If you see an Internet banner, for example, you have to click on that site to get or pull the advertisement information.

Yet, marketers are tailoring advertising on the Web from a pull to push method. Conclusion These nine principles will enable any Web-based entrepreneur to succeed, if the product is deemed worthy. Current and future technologies will and do enable us as consumers to make better decisions, and demand the best products from the companies that we purchase them from. Consumers will demand even more from their Web-based companies that they purchase goods and services from. If it only takes a few minutes to do some serious cost comparisons, then business sites need to keep reinventing themselves to keep their customers satisfied with not only their products, but also the quality of interaction the customer received to get their product.

This is why Schwartzs nine principles are essential.

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