E-commerce – Exploding the myth

Last updated on June 6th, 2022 at 01:11 am

Internet commerce is real. Are you ready?
Over the course of time, technical innovations and the fundamental changes they bring about have made for interesting debate.
Down through the years, statements were made that, in hindsight, can be considered absurd. See if you can identify the people who made the following remarks. The answers will appear at the end of this article:
1. “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”
2. “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
3. “I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.”
4. “But what … is it good for?”
5. “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
6. “640K ought to be enough for anybody.”
7. “A “catastrophic collapse” of the Internet will occur in 1996.”
Most of those now-popular statements were more than likely taken out of context, but nonetheless point to a trend where new technology frontiers are emerging: there are myths and realities associated with any trendsetting concept, and each one enjoys its share of early adopters and naysayers.
Enter the concept of electronic commerce over the Internet, or E-commerce.
“Electronic commerce over the Internet is unsecured.”
“As a company, we may alienate our distribution chain.”
“Internet commerce will never materialize – it will dry up and eventually fade away.”
“Why would anyone want to buy something over the Internet?”
“Isn’t it expensive?”
“It will eliminate personal interaction.”
Electronic commerce on the Internet is an ever-increasing reality. International Data Corp. expects a significant rise in worldwide Internet commerce, growing from just over $10 billion in 1997 to $123 billion in 2000.
A recent Commerce Department report found that radio existed for 38 years before it had 50 million listeners, and television took 13 years to reach that number of viewers. The Internet hit that milestone in just four years. In addition, more than one third of all current Web users are making online purchases today.
With the continued rapid adoption of the Internet and the potential to create compelling business advantages, the time to implement an Internet commerce strategy would appear to be now.
“Internet commerce” is the buying and selling of goods and services within a secure environment through the Internet. Its potential represents a dramatic extension of current methods of doing business. By leveraging the simplicity, power and global reach of the Internet, businesses can expand market share by serving new customers in geographic and demographic market segments that they have never been able to target or serve before.
Additionally an E-commerce solution like Dealer price enforcement can increase value from suppliers and others in the distribution channel, build stronger relationships with existing customers and partners and help better manage internal resources.
The value proposition is relatively simple: The ability to conduct secure transactions across the Internet gives users instant access to a worldwide market of buyers for products and services.
Companies which implement E-commerce solutions can expand their market reach, increase revenue, lower operating costs and enhance customer satisfaction.
And don’t let the simplicity of the value proposition fool you: a sound commerce strategy should be implemented to plan for and handle the complexities associated with this new and powerful way to do business.
It would appear that members of the supply chain cycle who resist the reality of Internet commerce, both from the business-to-business and business-to-consumer perspectives, will become victims of supply chain piracy. It’s lead, follow, or get out of the way.
Another myth debunker comes in the form of experience.
At a recent E-commerce seminar at the Milwaukee Athletic Club, Sheldon Laube, chief technology officer for USWeb Corp., stated that experience is a critical factor to success in the area of Internet commerce.
“Businesses cannot simply learn from others,” Laube said. “The velocity of change is increasingly so rapidly that ‘been there, done that’ is the only way you can learn. Learning is so valuable at this stage of the cycle.”
Laube also added that time is critical.
“Customer expectations of a Website is such that a static billboard experience is not enough. Users expect some sort of business process to be available to them when they go to a site. People buy insurance, lease a car, order a gift certificate, receive technical support, order brochures, and all kinds of things. These are real tools, being used by real people.”
Viewed as a myth only several years ago, it would appear that electronic commerce via the Web is reality. The promise and potential is simply too vast.
Jim Brophy is senior manager, business solutions, for the Milwaukee practice of USWeb Corp. in New Berlin. Small Business Times readers who have an Internet-related question can e-mail Brophy at jbrophy@usweb.com.
Answers to the remarks above:
1. Western Union Internal Memo, 1876
2. Thomas Watson,
chairman of IBM, 1943
3. The editor in charge of business books, Prentice Hall, in 1957
4. Engineer at the Advanced
Computing Systems Division of IBM, commenting on the microchip
5. Ken Olson, president,
chairman and founder of
Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
6. Bill Gates, 1981
7. Bob Metcalfe,
inventor of Ethernet, 1995.
May 1998 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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