Benefits of the Internet for BusinessesThe internet permits every size of business to:
- Improve communications
- Access information
- Cut Costs
- Improve efficiency
- Find new business opportunities
- Work more closely with customers
- Work more closely with suppliers.
Basics of the Internet
Connecting to the internetMost businesses connect to the Internet via a broadband connection, with the main benefits of this being its speed. Mobile broadband i.e. on your phone is also becoming increasingly popular, chiefly for those who travel for business or who work at different locations.
A website for your business?Decide whether your business would really benefit from having a website. Many businesses benefit from having a bare-bones website which provides:
- Contact details
- Products and services
- Prices or rates etc.
- Building-up your brand awareness.
- Reducing costs
- Selling products and services
- Improving customer support
- Showcasing your portfolio
Buying and selling on the InternetThe internet can bring new opportunities for your company to buy and sell goods and services online – this is generically referred to as e-commerce. Business relationships online can be roughly separated into two main kinds:
- B2C (Business to Consumer) – selling products or services directly to individual consumers
- B2B (Business to Business) – selling goods or services to other businesses.
Business to ConsumerSelling goods in a B2C environment generally requires a website with an online shop front with people anywhere in the world browsing it. When they choose to make a purchase they proceed to an electronic ‘checkout’ where there will be some form of payment-processing function to handle the debit or credit cards.
Business to BusinessOne of the most significant B2B developments has been the growth of online auctions. These are computerized versions of traditional auctions where prices are set by buyers bidding against each other. Another B2B development is the e-marketplace where buyers and sellers trade goods and services online.
Using the Internet to work more effectivelyThe internet can act as the foundation of secure business, client and supplier networks. It allows computer systems to talk to each other, enhancing the way your employees and customers access information. It can also help to improve efficiency and productivity, reduce costs and cut maintenance time via outsourcing.
Promoting your business via the internetIf you make a well-designed website, you can quickly compete on an equal footing with your larger competitors online. Likewise, the use of online marketing activities gives businesses of any size reasonable access to the mass market. If you build a website you can reach anyone with internet access, anywhere in the world. Online marketing will permit you to tap into new markets and compete globally for only a small investment. A properly planned, targeted online campaign can reach the right customers at a much lower cost than traditional marketing methods. Online marketing also gives you measurable results, so that you can see how effective your campaigns have been. Methods of promoting your website
- Paying for advertising on search engines or relevant other websites.
- Constructing your website site so that it appears higher up the list of search engine results – a strategy commonly referred to as search engine optimization (SEO).
- Using email and text messages – SMS (Short Messaging Service) – to carry out marketing campaigns.
Domain namesThe name of your website (your domain name) is a vital element in your online promotional activities. The domain name should symbolize your image effectively and make your product or service clear to potential clients. Ideally, it should be easy to remember, easy to spell.
Benefits of email and the internetEmail has become a necessary method of business communication and if used properly it is a particularly efficient and effective form of communication that can be used to transmit all kinds of electronic data.
Some of the advantages of using email include:
- price – sending an email costs the same in spite of distance and the number of people you send it to
- speed – an email should reach its recipient in minutes
- convenience – your message will be stored until the recipient is ready to read it, and you can easily send the same message to a large number of people
- permanent records – a record can be kept of messages and replies, including details of when a message arrived
Some potential disadvantages of using email include:
- spam – unsolicited email that can overwhelm your email system
- viruses spreading through email attachments
- emails are easily sent to the wrong person accidentally
- it automatically creates entries in your address book for every message you send or receive
- incoming emails are responded to automatically