Building a Better Brick-and-Mortar with the Billion-Dollar Web

More than $117 billion passed hands from Internet shoppers to Internet vendors in 2004, according to the statistical research firm comScore. That's billion, with a B. Compared to the year before, the figure represents a whopping 24 percent increase in sales. Compared to the early 1990s, when the Web was a questionable commercial venture, today's $117 billion is proof-positive that the Web is the full-fledged money-making machine. It seems to be a big enough pie that any merchant with a Web site can cut out his heaping slice.

Not so fast. As any merchant who's tried to take a bite out of the Internet will tell you, turning a profit online is not as simple as throwing a few pages together. Professional Web sites cost big bucks for design, consultation, and upkeep. Either you have to hire a full-time editor or technician to manage your Web store, or you need to pay three-digit hourly rates to contract Web professionals. Then you have to face fees for Web hosting, broadband access, and IT maintenance.

Even after you expend all of this capital and launch your Web site, you're still not guaranteed anything. Your site will only be one among millions, if not billions. Yes, that's billions with a B again. The Internet, after all, is like a clear sky on a dark night. How can you expect a customer to pick your star out from among all of the others that shimmer for their attention?

On the Web you'll quickly learn that attracting your clientele-and building your Internet-based business-is just as tough as it was when you first started your brick-and-mortar shop. It takes smart investing, creative marketing, a little luck, and a lot more know-how.

What's great about the business side of the Web, however, is that your old-fashioned know-how translates quite well on the Web. A great example is the timeless merchant adage: "Location, location, location." This saying holds true on the Web, too. You can place your store's site in a spot on the Web where no one will discover you, or you could position it on a "busy corner" on the Internet.

One such spot are online classified sites. These sites provide similar services as you would get from a newspaper classified. Sellers can place ads online that describe a particular product for sale. Buyers browse these ads and contact sellers when they're interested. Online classifieds, though, are far more dynamic. They allow a merchant to display dozens, if not hundreds, of their goods with pictures and descriptions. And believe it or not, some online classified sites allow you to do this for free. Yes, that's free with an F.

The benefits don't stop there. As a merchant on a classified site, you can enjoy:

? A store that never closes. Your goods are for sale 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The Internet never turns off.

? A mall of online shoppers. Think of a classified site as a virtual shopping mall, with your grouping of ads under your own virtual storefront. By having a storefront, this allows you to have your own web page and listings, under the umbrella of the classified site.

? A chain reaction of shopping. "Real" shoppers go to a mall to visit one store, but often they end up browsing through all of the stores in the mall. The same is true of virtual shoppers. Even when they visit a classified site looking for one particular thing, they're likely to "spill over" to your storefront out of curiosity. At the very least, it leads to advertising for your store; at best, business.

? An advantage over pure Web merchants. Your classified site will pit you against wily online vendors who only sell their wares on the Web. This is where your brick-and-mortar business comes in handy. It's proven that shoppers seem to trust online merchants that have a real address and a real store somewhere.

? A solution to the intricacies of the Internet. Many classified sites can help with setting up your ads and with designing your storefront, providing you with instant IT IQ. For your buyers, the sites offer the security that Web shoppers demand to protect them from identify theft and fraud.

As mentioned before, many classified sites charge absolutely nothing for all of these benefits. The listings, the shopping traffic, the sense of business community, the advertising-you receive all of these perks for free. Oh, and don't forget your piece of the $117 billion dollar pie.

Donald Lee is the public relationship manager for Buysellcommunity.com. Buysellcommunity provides free classified listing services for individuals and businesses to market their products and services online. For global and localized classifieds, please visit http://www.buysellcommunity.com - Free Buy & Sell Classifieds

In The News:

Strategic planning for 2021  Estes Park Trail-Gazette
Your Real PPP: Post-Pandemic Plan  Credit Union Times
UAM begins new strategic plan  Pine Bluff Commercial
'Becoming UWG'  GlobeNewswire
Strategic Planning for an Unprecedented Fall Semester  The Chronicle of Higher Education

Your Business: Will It Have A Happy Ending?

"Begin with the end in mind," says Stephen Covey in... Read More

When Do I Need To Hire A Business Plan Consultant

Every new business owner knows that a business plan is... Read More

Invalid Excuses for Poor Business Results - Rising costs

Note to Northwest Airlines ? It's not about fuel costsFor... Read More

Why Six Sigma Will Work in Healthcare

If ever there were an industry where we want zero... Read More

Elite Positioning Brings Higher Profits

Imagine spending the same amount of money on marketing and... Read More

The Top Ten Rules of Effective Networking

Many of us are discouraged by the networking events that... Read More

The 7 Critical Steps to Formulating Your Annual Strategic Business Plan

Businesses tend to avoid doing their annual business plan thinking... Read More

Urban Flight in Ohio

Many of Ohio's downtown areas are in need of upgrading... Read More

Shortening Product Life Cycle!

The current state of the available technology at the disposal... Read More

Top 10 Tips to Create A Business Plan! (For People Who Hate Business Plans)

One of the key challenges for any business is to... Read More

19 Questions to Supercharge Your Business Plan

Whether you are seeking capital for your company or are... Read More

Content Management: Wise Investment for Business Prosperity

The time when a website was just a simple set... Read More

The Impact of Price Popularity on Profits

The goal of almost every business owner is to generate... Read More

Attributes of Companies You Dont Want to Buy!

There are no "rules of thumb" in the pursuit of... Read More

5 Strategies That Will Boost Your Business Productivity Today! - Part 1

Building a dynamic small business is a constantly evolving, increasingly... Read More

Writing a Business Plan for Success in Business and for Funding

Writing a business plan to help you direct and manage... Read More

Hunters and Gatherers - Are You Serving Both Their Needs?

The University of Exeter in the United Kingdom recently published... Read More

Scheduling of Additional Auto Detailing or Mobile Car Wash Units

If you own a mobile car wash business or auto... Read More

10 Critical Facts to Put On the Cover of Your Business Plan...

In most business plans, no matter how striking the idea,... Read More

Describing Intellectual Property in Your Business Plan

Most companies that are worthy of raising venture capital have... Read More

Own Your Niche by Building a Niche Community

In 1997, David Steele was making the transition from a... Read More

Why You Need a Business Planning System NOT a Business Plan

When someone mentions business planning we have been conditioned to... Read More

Business Plan: The Simplest Business Plan Ever

If you're a solo professional like I am, you know... Read More

How To Kick Start Your Business And Double Your Profits

This will make some people angry as hell, but it's... Read More

Leverage - A Small Step For You /A Big Change For Your Career

Cassy was an employee of a nonprofit who had been... Read More