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10 reasons to stick with the Internet Featured

9:33am EDT July 22, 2002

I was speaking recently at an e-commerce seminar with Tom Zych of Thompson, Hine and Flory on why businesses should continue to throw resources at the Internet despite the dubious returns most are experiencing.

One of the topics was, with the Great Internet Shakeout, why would an intelligent business owner continue to throw good money after bad into an e-strategy? Here are 10 good reasons to stay focused on your company's e-strategy.

10. The medium is established.

Web traffic continues to increase, as do the number of Web site visits and the amount of e-commerce.

9. There is no variable cost of distribution.

The Internet provides the ability to communicate with a million people as cheaply as with one person. With no variable distribution cost, the net cost to reach people becomes zero.

8. It turns technology into relationships.

Few technologies really humanize communication the way the Internet does. You can truly express who you are and what you are to somebody online.

7. It helps you turn relationships into value.

The Internet allows a visitor to indicate preferences, interests and opinions, which form the basis for interaction, and thus a relationship. And in business, it's all about relationships.

6. Pornographers are never wrong, and they're never broke.

Videotapes video stores and, quite frankly, VCRs, all owe their early success to the pornography industry. While it's a distasteful role model, it's important to recognize success when you see it: 60 percent of Internet commerce is still pornography-based.

5. Leverage, leverage, leverage.

In the era of knowledge businesses, what we know is often all that we are worth. Take your knowledge and leverage it online. Your articles, experiences, case studies and client studies are more interesting than you may think. Inventory them and make them easily accessible examples of your business.

4. It makes us them and them us.

As Paul Simon says, "One man's ceiling is another man's floor." Your roles as vendor, customer, peer and competitor can all be fleshed out and communicated to those who need to see you in those terms. This way, you can simultaneously extend all your critical relationships.

3. You have either inventory or information.

Long before the buzz words "supply chain" came into vogue, it was clear American distribution channels were contracting. The Internet gives you two choices -- convey information or carry inventory.

2. Your suppliers are online.

Think of everything your firm buys. How much of it do you -- and could you -- buy online? Chances are, most of what you need is waiting for you there. If your vendors are there, you should be, too.

1. Your customers are online.

How many of your customers are doing business online? If a majority are selling online, how often do they stay online and look for vendors? Are you at risk by not being there? Even though commerce may not be occurring online, impressions and preferences are being reinforced and revised daily.

Going back online is not too different from your plans for the weekend following the first party you went to in college. You swear you will exercise better judgment, but you have no intention of staying home. As the weekend beckons, so does e-commerce.

The key is to play the game intelligently and with greater forethought. Andy Birol (abirol@pacerassociates.com) is president of PACER Associates Inc., a Solon-based firm that provides expert advice to owners and leaders who need to grow their businesses. He can be reached at (440) 349-1970.