Sales vs. Promotions, Pricing Your Goods , Customer Relations, Price Points, Selling on Online Auctions, Selling From Websites, Selling At Craft Fairs, Selling At Home Shows, Selling To Stores, Attitude, No Money Down Advertising, Independent Sales Reps, Customer Referrals, Gift Certificates, Be Customer Driven, Keepers, Mail Campaigns, Payment Types, Packaging, Bargain Selling, Basics of Selling, Working With Non Profits, Start Up Fees, Start Up Inventory, Competing With Imports, Calling New Businesses, Preparing for Sales Appointments, Sales Appointments, Teaching, Selling On Consignment, Selling Gifts
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Inside the World
of My Online Business
Sandra J. Paluzzi
Iíve been making my living selling beads on the internet since 1999. During that time, I have bought and sold literally millions of dollars of beads online. This money has passed through hundreds of thousands of transactions. It has flowed from stranger to stranger to stranger. Yet, Iíve never had my identity stolen. Iíve never had my credit card abused, or been stalked. Iíve never had suppliers fail to ship. In fact, I have discovered a world that is mainly inhabited by generous, honest, hard working people.
Of course there are some problems inherent in doing business on the web.. Merchants and customers in the brick and mortar world encounter unsatisfactory transactions. Whatís true for the physical world is true for the online world as well. But how much greater are the online risks?
FBI statistics show that most credit cards are
actually stolen in the physical world.
Once a credit card number is stolen, it will probably be used to make purchases online. But the credit card companies protect the cardholder against unauthorized online use of their cards. It is the online merchants who shoulder the risk of shipping to an unauthorized customer. During the last 6 years, I have had two unauthorized users place orders. In both cases, I was not paid for the beads I shipped. My total losses for bad debts in six years is under 100.00. I can live with that.
So much for the thieves. What about online scammers, sickies and wierdos? I definitely get some interesting email. However, I seriously doubt that I have won a lottery I didnít play or that I had a long lost relative die with no known heirs. I also doubt that I am so charismatic that people who do not even know me are enthralled or that I can lose 100 pounds by taking one small, but expensive, pill. Basically, that old adage applies: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is not true.
What is true about the net is that the vast majority of its citizens are incredibly generous. A customer created The Bead Peddlerģ logo for me as a birthday gift. I once wrote a free business plan for an online friend. Personal acts of friendship abound between online users. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands of people who spend many, many hours working on websites that benefit total strangers. Not only do these philanthropists work for free, they also pay online web fees to host their sites.
All of this is not to say that the internet is nirvana or a dream come true. If there are any businesses that do not require cash outlays, I havenít heard of them. If there are any get rich quick schemes, I havenít heard of them either. An online business has financial overhead just like any other business. And the work is never ending. There is also always something to be done: inventory to order and receive, orders to pack and ship, customer questions to answer, websites to maintain, and a myriad of bookkeeping details.
With all that hard work and cash outlay, there is no guarantee for success. In fact, more internet businesses fail than succeed. Those business owners that do succeed spend a great deal of time and money on both marketing and customer relations. They are diligent in finding new ways to market, new places to network and new places to advertise. They work hard to maintain a professional website to welcome their guests. They are quick to respond to email inquiries. They are quick to ship. They are quick to accept returns and acknowledge their mistakes. And, most importantly, these successful online merchants listen to their customers. They Ďhearí what the customers want and try hard to provide a unique product line or service. When they canít provide the solution, these business owners refer customers elsewhere for the good will. They treat their suppliers and employees with the same respect they accord their customers.
At this point you may be wondering what differences there are between doing business on the net and doing business in the brick and mortar world. Iíve gone from running a successful business in the physical world to running one online. The basic tenets are the same. In fact, I am quite comfortable saying that the only thing thatís changed is the geography.
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