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Lesson Two -
Ecommerce Fast-Track Strategies

Lesson Goals

  • The Strategy of Monitoring Trends to Leapfrog Ahead
  • The Strategies for Finding Local and Global Ecommerce Opportunities
  • The Strategy of Starting with Online Auctions as Your Easiest First Ecommerce Experience
  • The Strategy of Using Search Engines to Create Your Own Resource Hotlists

Leapfrogging Strategies

With the world changing so rapidly, studying trends is important to anticipate what's coming. Learning to leapfrog ahead requires a combination of common sense and quality information. You really don't have to catch up on all the things you may feel you've missed in the past because much of that information is of little relevance today. Instead, as a strategy, you can leapfrog to the current moment and just focus on the highlights of what is important today.

As human capital becomes the chief source of economic value, education and training will become lifelong endeavors for the vast majority of workers. The new economy puts a premium on intellectual capital over financial or physical assets. However, the life of knowledge and human skills today is shorter than ever. As a result individuals are challenged to remain at the forefront of education and training throughout a career. Lifelong learning is imperative. Online learning is expected to grow dramatically to meet these ongoing training needs with the convenience and efficiency of anywhere, anytime learning. As a strategy, learn to get comfortable with online learning.

By 2003, one-fourth of all US business-to-business purchasing will be done online and 63 percent of Americans will be surfing the web. Already, 61 percent of all businesses have a web presence.

Louis Rossetto, editor of Wired magazine, has said that "... in the age of information overload, the ultimate luxury is meaning and context."

While risk-taking can create a first-to-market opportunity, your money is generally safer replicating proven successes. The Internet makes it rather easy to track the newer proven successes. As a strategy, focus on what's working for others.

One strategy used by many companies in order to attract advertisers and to create rapid widespread exposure to their company has been to offer free web services available to everyone. At http://yahoo.com you can get free email accounts, set up free listservs, and even create a free online Ecommerce web site. However, after 30 days you'll have to pay $100/month to keep your "free" Ecommerce web site. On the other hand, there are many other free web tools and services available, including free Ecommerce sites where you won't be charged a fee. As a strategy, plan on becoming aware of the best existing free web tools and services.

Before the slump of technology stocks, many more businesses offered free services, but with the slump, many were forced to close down. Today, dot.coms are jokingly referred to as faith-based organizations. When the stocks were soaring, many believed technology would save us all. Unfortunately, the customer base was over estimated. People didn't jump on this bandwagon as online consumers. Perhaps your own feelings toward technology will give you an insight into the behavior of others.

Currently, there are 67 million online shoppers. Expectations are the number will double to 132 million over the next four years. Meanwhile, the number of Internet users is expected to show only single-digit growth.

[SOURCE: New York Times, AUTHOR: Bob Tedeschi]
(http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/04/technology/ebusiness/04ECOM.html) (requires registration)
Full PIP report available at: (http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/toc.asp?Report=55).
Further trend information from Jupiter Media Matrix is available at

As people become more comfortable using the Internet, their readiness for more and more services will grow. Anticipating what people will soon be ready for can be identified by looking at new emerging businesses and tracking their degree of acceptance and success. Women and seniors are the two fastest growing groups of new Internet users. For example, are people ready to order groceries online to be hand-delivered to their door? At some point they will be. Pioneering entrepreneurs are already exploring this emerging niche market. As a strategy to become better aware of new opportunities, watch for emerging new markets!

It will be easy to find market projections on the web regarding predictions about what's coming amid the many resources presented in this course. In short, business-to-business sales (b2b) are projected to be ten times greater than business-to-consumer (b2c) sales. Hence, there's a big rush of b2b start-ups. You'll find many new terms to learn related to Ecommerce. In the hands-on activities for this lesson you will learn how to find glossaries of these terms and short overviews of key trends and insight as to what's most important.

Local and Global Ecommerce Strategies

Used cars are an example of a local product. Posting pictures of available used cars on the web can provide convenient local advertising. Nationwide used car databases are now available which allow any used car dealer to market cars nationally, even internationally. Using the web to sell locally, one has to take into consideration that the Internet allows everyone the ability for unlimited comparison shopping.

Just as Walmart undercut prices for local retailers causing many businesses to go bankrupt, by offering better selection, convenience, and prices, so may the Internet also change the dynamics for other local retailers. Focusing on creating new local services by using the Internet collaboratively to provide your customers with additional convenience and attention is one strategy. Another is to take advantage of your ability to market your wares globally.

While you might not sell many handmade quilts locally, posting your quilts on a web page could create a viable fulltime job regardless of your rural location. The web permits tapping into specialty niche markets that were never widely accessible prior to the Internet. Numerous similar examples can be found with a little effort. Your economic strategy could be to collect replicable success stories similar to what you'd like to achieve and to learn from these successes.

Whereas in the past, the two concepts of the public and private sectors might have appeared to be morally at odds, in the new service economy "social entrepreneurship" is emerging as the synergy of the best of both worlds. In a service economy, products and services that help people deal with information overload are continually evolving in many new ways.

Online Auctions Can Be Your Easiest First Ecommerce Experience

Ebay has demonstrated a successful consumer-to-consumer (c2c) model where anyone can upload an image of something to sell and set a starting minimum bid. Then, up to a set deadline, anyone can bid that price or a higher price. The seller enjoys selling to the highest bidder. In 2001, over six billion dollars were exchanged by citizens selling nearly anything you can imagine. Other online auction sites have emerged as well as variations on this proven model. The inexpensive global self-publishing capabilities of the Internet can turn a simple flea market concept into a six-billion dollar-a-year business, such as Ebay. By learning to upload a picture of your product, you can engage in world trade online - as a recommended easiest first Ecommerce experience. Your strategy is to see what you can learn exploring Ebay in the Hands-on Activities part of this lesson.

We've Become a Hunting and Gathering Society, Again.

We've become a hunting and gathering society looking for the highest quality information.  In the hands-on activities for this lesson you'll experience a first glance at a wide variety of Ecommerce resources and models. You'll have the opportunity to learn to use search engines to collect your own great resources. Extensive listings of quality resources already exist on nearly any topic you can name. Knowing how to find these listings can save you countless hours of time as opposed to searching for individual resources. Creating your own high quality collections of specific resources can save valuable time for others as either a community service or as a for-profit service or product. You can add additional value to these resources by including thoughtful annotations and other value-added features. Keep in mind "less is more" in the age of information overload.

Search engines are everywhere. They exist in nearly every software program. Select the HELP button of whatever program you're using and explore how you can search for help tips on any aspect of your particular software program. Most web sites have their own search engine which allows you to search for specific resources, but only within that particular web site. Learning a few simple basics about using search engines is one of the smartest investments in your future that you can make.

Learn to use bookmarks. Your browser allows you to bookmark all web pages you'd like to return to later. To learn how to use bookmarks, click on the HELP button on the menu bar of your browser and find the tips on "Bookmarks" or "Using Bookmarks." (The Internet Explorer browser calls these "favorites.")

Hands-on Activities

  1. Explore Ebay at   http://ebay.com

Note: The book "Ebay for Dummies" is available at  http://amazon.com  

      2. Author a First Web Page in Two Minutes

There are many free services on the Internet allowing you to create free web sites, and much more. One such service offered by Blue Mountain Arts creates an animated musical greeting card web page for you to email to a friend in just a couple minutes. The importance of this activity is to realize how easy it can be to actually create a web page. Soon, you'll create your first Ecommerce web page with similar ease. For Free Web Tools: http://lone-eagles.com/webdev.htm

A Case Study: Bluemountain.com was sold for 90 million dollars. It started as a Mom and Pop business where their 17-year-old son provided the technical expertise to create a web site with a rather simple idea. Allow anyone to fill out a form, select an image, and enter an email address of a friend. The friend receives a web address in an email message, clicks, and receives a personalized, animated, musical greeting card. Advertisers were attracted to this site by the fact that hundreds of thousands of people used the site each day. Many similar free services have been offered in an attempt to replicate this successful, ingenious, yet simple, model.

Many similar copycat businesses are also successful, such as http://beatgreetings.com which offers much better music. Now, Bluemountain offers subscriptions to allow access to even fancier greeting cards, and is soliciting original artwork for cards from Native Americans and others who now have an opportunity to sell their creative artwork. Perhaps Bluemountain will evolve to become a cooperative where anyone can profit by marketing their artwork and/or music through a partnership with Bluemountain. Keep this theme in mind as you'll see many similar examples - everyone as both consumer and producer, all the time.

How to do it. As a recommended first experience with online web-authoring, go to http://bluemountain.com and send someone an animated musical greeting card. Just follow the instructions and explore the features. Since most web sites are more similar than different, the more sites you explore - the more comfortable and efficient you'll become when exploring new sites. We'll look at creating free Ecommerce web sites in a later lesson.

Recommended Readings

Read each article once without clicking on the included supporting web addresses. Then return to explore those links that interest you.

Submissions Required for the Ecommerce and Telework Certification

  1. Email your instructor a one page write-up on the time you spent on this lesson and which specific strategies you're prepared to adopt. Reference the best specific resources you reviewed during this lesson with emphasis on your particular interests. Verify you've completed all activities and readings presented in this lesson.

    Share with your instructor a self-assessment of your skills related to this lesson and which skills you plan on developing further. Use the following subject line in your message "Submission for Lesson Two"
  2. Complete the Suggested Hands-on Learning Opportunities at

Level One - Searching and Browsing Skills
(The Power of a Self-directed Learner)

Successive hands-on experiences are presented to build the basic Self-directed Internet Learning Skills for web browsing, cut-and-paste, and using search engines to learn anything from anywhere at any time.

Optional Skillbuilders

Test your searching skills - Using cut-and-paste, create a hotlist based on results from searching  http://google.com using the following exact keywords. Then experiment with keywords and key-phrases of your own

Perhaps you'd like a listing of ecommerce portals (mega-sites).
Try ecommerce AND portal*

Perhaps you'd like a glossary of Internet terms and abbreviations.
Try Internet AND glossary or Internet ANDterm*

Perhaps you'd like quilting sites

Try quilt* AND ecommerce

Try Idaho AND ecommerce -

Share your best results via the class listserv.