What Businesses are Succeeding on the Net?

The most basic question any Internet business owner will have to answer at one point or another?"what should I sell?".

After the settling down of the dot-com bubble, sanity checks have brought realistic expectations to the fore. Initially, a backlash was seen, forecasting the doom of the Internet. Finally, merits have made the Internet gain its rightful place. In breakthroughs that show the promise of e-commerce wasn't all smoke and mirrors, four dot-coms recently reported their first quarterly profits.

The list of the Internet's publicly held moneymakers includes eBay Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Yahoo! Inc., Overture Services Inc., Expedia Inc., FindWhat.com Inc. and E-Trade Group Inc. Several privately owned dot-coms, including search engines Google and DealTime, say they have been making money, too.

Should you be selling a product or a service?

The Internet is primarily used to communicate, entertain, educate and research. It is thus no wonder that nonperishable, information-intensive products - including computers and software, books, travel, consumer electronics, magazine subscriptions - are the most popular online products at present. Content-rich sites, subscription-based sites to advertiser-supported sites focusing on a wide range of topics, have been sprouting all over the Internet.

Services such as hotel reservation, air travel and investments have successfully translated themselves to the Internet.

Unique services such as Online driving schools have been prospering. Some states in the US have set up online payment sites for Government services. Residents of a state can log on to a common site to pay all bills and other expenses, such as parking tickets to the local/County courts.

However, all kinds of services cannot be run entirely on the Internet. The Internet is less effective when face-to-face selling is needed to close a deal. The Internet can give lots of preliminary information that's useful in setting the scene for the closing. But the actual closing takes place offline - i.e., not on the Internet.

Products can also be marketed and sold successfully on the Internet. The kinds of products and services that sell best on the Internet are those that take advantage of the convenience of the Net. Remember that convenience is the primary reason why consumers flock to the Internet in the first place. People can shop any hour of the day at any site. They can avoid crowded stores, irritating sales clerks, and even avoid pickpockets.

Offbeat or unusual products and services often attract online attention and sell strongly. You would generally not try to sell items people can get at the corner store. Thus, few toothbrushes are sold on the Net; the same thing with daily food and beverage purchases. But special cheeses, rare cigars, Turkish plates, long-aged wines, even diamonds, can and do sell on the Net.

Most products sold by catalog and mail order also sell well on the Net. However, people tend to buy only those products that could be shipped at a reasonable price. Higher shipping costs diminish the price competitiveness of online products and turns-off a lot of potential buyers. In fact, high shipping costs is the primary factor that discourages people from buying online more than any other single reason. An Ernst and Young report shows that 53 percent of online shoppers are concerned with shipping costs that are too high, compared to only 19 percent who are concerned with credit cards being stolen.

As an online merchant, you have to work out the advantages as well as disadvantages of selling either products or services. However, in the recent past, online services have known to flourish. Nevertheless, if you chose to sell products you need to rethink your product offering if the total costs of the product and the shipping are higher than what is offered elsewhere.

Take some time to evaluate your products or services. There is a growing market of potential customers on the Internet, you just need to offer the products and services they are looking for.

Larry Blake's most recent books and reports are now available online at his web site, http://infobook-ezine.com. His latest blog reports are very informative and cover all aspects of Blog marketing ideas and opportunities. Get all the Blog marketing details: infobook-ezine.com/blog-report.html

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