10 reasons why some e-Commerce succeed

The following are some of my opinions on why some e-Commerce business succeed while others do not. I wouldn’t say e-Commerce really succeeded in Singapore. For starters, there isn’t an Amazon-equivalent website in Singapore. But for certain, small online businesses are quite plentiful available. These small e-businesses usually come in the form of blogs. Thus known as “blogshops”. So how do these small e-businesses keep themselves viable?

 

The following qualities such successful e-businesses possess are as followed:

 

Customer Service

This is definitely the most important reason and quality a good blogshop possesses. If you deliver your goods as promised on your blog, in terms of quality and after-sales services (entertaining post-purchase queries from customers), you will most likely earn the favor of your customers.

 

Word of mouth advertising

You can pay tons of money on adverts and still not able to generate customers to your website (think MOCCA.COM for their sleasy ads). The most effective form of advertising actually doesn’t cause much. Word of mouth advertising really works wonders with the buzz it creates. When customers are satisfied with the shopping experience (good customer service) on your blogshop, they will naturally recommend it to their friends and colleagues. Next thing you know, you have a loyal band of customers that help you advertise your business.

Another thing to notice among successful blog businesses are that they have a mailing list. Which works in sending out the latest information (i.e. newest products or upcoming sale) to its customers. This helps maintain communication with past customers and hopefully might encourage future purchases from them. 

Niche products

Now, setting up a blog business selling toothpicks isn’t going to bring in the dough. The reason is simple, the product is too commonly available and insignificant. So carefully selecting what products to sell is important. If you sell a product that is unavailable in retail stores or on other blog businesses (i.e. Cuisinart’s soft-serve ice cream maker), customers looking for this product will flock to your website.

Cheaper prices

If the products sold are marked up lesser, this also encourages more customers to shop at your website as compared to “more expensive” competitors. 

Good website

By definition of good website would be one with smooth graphics and relative ease for customers to navigate around. The simpler (i.e. less cluttered) the website is, the more visually pleasing it will be. 

Keeping on the edge

Technology is constantly improving. To ensure that your online business maintains good business, it has to be on the fore-front of not only product trends but also technology. No one would be impressed with a blogshop that runs on glittery neon background, corny music on infinite loop on web 1.0 html (GASP~).

Rejuvenation

Sometimes keeping to your niche product forever can be disastrous, especially when the trend for it is in its sunset. For example selling VHS cassettes instead of the more popular DVDs. To reinvent yourself is the way to survive changes in product trends and tech advancement. 

Maximising social media outlets 

Social networking websites are another place to advertise your products and e-business. Blogshop operators have generated fan-following to their businesses by creating a page of their business via Facebook and Myspace. In a way, such websites allow the proprietors to advertise their products to their friends and extended network for free, thus generating word-of-mouth marketing with minimal effort. 

Promote more viewership by subscribing to blog directories

Syndicating your blog’s newsfeed to blog directories (specifically blogshop directories) help in generating the right viewership to your website. Some directories also provide a review of your blogshop, which in turns helps publicizes your business.

Motivation

A successful blogshop or any e-Business is not built in a single day. E-businesses are no much easier to maintain as do an offline business. Thus you must be willing to work more than 8 hours a day, 5 days a week on your e-Business and not be too disappointed when you don’t see success in the short run. 

Then again the definition of a successful e-Business is hard to define. The success of social networking site, Facebook, is undeniable. However, even it failed to break even, financially.

The truth about Podcasting

When you first hear of the word “podcast”, what comes into your mind? Surely something with the “i” and the “pod”? Well, Podcast is a portmandeau of 2 words, iPod and broadcast. Wait a minute… So the concept of Podcast derived from Apple’s iconic music device? 

Initially I thought so, and certainly for a long while, until I began my mini-research to find out the truth…

According to Jason Van Orden (2005), a podcasting consultant, the concept of podcasting originated not long after blogs took to the Internet. Instead of recording their thoughts in words, bloggers began to search for an alternative; that is to record their thoughts in audio.

So they recorded their voices in mp3 files and uploaded them to their blogs. End of story? Not so! The same problems with regular blogs, readers (or should I say listeners) have to constantly check out the website for the latest mp3 recording. Which can be tedious and time-wasting. A solution to this problem for regular blogs was the RSS. However, there wasn’t such technology available for the audio blogs.

Then comes the hero… Adam Curry (ex-MTV VJ from the 80s) decided that audio blogging needed to be simple to upload and and download. So, he worked with Dave Winer (creator of RSS) to come up with a software that collects and informs of new mp3 updates. The magic of the software lies in it being able to find the link to download the audio file directly to your music device. Which music device is no longer a surprise; the iPod!

The marriage of iPod and broadcasting

In 2004, Ben Hammerslay of the Guardian created the portmandeau “podcasting” to describe the phenomenon of online radio broadcasting. The term has thus stuck for good…

Here’s a simple explanation from Common Craft:

 

References:

Radio to the MP3 degree: Podcasting, USATODAY.com, 2 August 2005

Audible revolution, Ben Hammersley (The Guardian), 12 February 2004

History of Podcasting, Jason Van Orden (How To Podcast Tutorial), 2005

Podcasting in Plain English, Common Craft (via Youtube), 2008

RSS What?!

OK… Seriously what the hell is RSS. You’ve seen it everywhere, even on this blog (look right). Is it an exclusive club? Is it a newsletter? What the hell is it! Do I even have to pay to access it? 

To understand what RSS is all about, we have to dissect the acronym itself. I asked some friends of their opinion as to what RSS really meant. Here are some interesting suggestions:

Really Stupid Shit

Really Sophisticated Stuff

Rich Sexy Stockbroker

Republic of Singapore Ship

Rich Site Summary

Really Simple Syndication

Personally I thought that RSS meant Really Simple Syndication. But according to Monday’s lecture, the definition seems to be Rich Site Summary. OK… Both are interchangeably used. 

RSS icon credited from Max Delson

So what is the primary function of RSS?

It’s a subscribing feed that helps you to find out when do the blogs/websites you usually read have been updated. It works to save time and probably curb your frustration of having to keep visiting the sites and waiting in vain for the next update.

Mr Choy mentioned during lecture that RSS is very addictive but I would beg to differ here. If you are subscribing to RSS for work related websites (i.e. SIM website), then probably you won’t be so hung up about constantly getting all excited to check your RSS reader (i.e. Google Reader). But let’s say you’ve subscribed to your favorite entertainment gossip blog (i.e. Perezhilton) or even your friends’ blogs, then perhaps there is a higher possibility of addiction. It very much depends on whether you were crazy about the websites you’ve subscribed RSS feed to in the first place. 

So what’s with the RSS icon?

The orange icon used today to represent RSS was created by Mozilla for their Firefox browser. It became the lead representative in December 2005 when Microsoft Internet Explorer and Microsoft Outlook announced via their official blogs that they would be using the same icon as Mozilla. Early 2006, Opera browser also came to adapt the same icon, thus cementing the orange icon with white radio waves as the official RSS icon. 

If you still have any queries about RSS, check out this video for clear explanation: 

Try it today?

If you’re wondering if RSS is a pay per use program, worry no more… It’s absolutely FREE OF CHARGE! So are feed readers like Google Reader. Masternewmedia.com has some interesting suggestions for the use of RSS:

  • Creating an “ego radar”, a way of monitoring what people are saying about you and your content all over the web
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  • Creating a lifestream – an aggregated collection of your online publishing, from Flickr photos, to blog posts, YouTube videos and Twitter tweets
  • Submitting your feed to RSS directories – how you can maximize your web exposure by making use of the huge list of RSS directories gathered together by Robin Good

 

Now do I use RSS? Nah… I still prefer to check out the websites manually. OK… I do submit my RSS feed to photoblog directories to promote my photoblog (click to check it out!!!), and so far it’s been quite useful in generating viewership for my photoblog. So what are you waiting for? Try it out today! 🙂

 

References:

Icons: It’s still orange, Microsoft RSS Blog, 14 December 2005

RSS icon goodness, blog post by Michael A. Affronti of Microsoft (Outlook Program Manager), 15 December 2005

What Is RSS: A Guide To Really Simple Syndication Benefits, Best Uses And Applications, Michael Pick, November 20, 2007

Internet: 1997-2000

On a particular day in 1997, I had my first experience of the Internet. At that point of time, I didn’t own a PC. What I did was I used to snoop around my Uncle (who was living with my family then) whenever he was on the computer. I typically watch him play games like Doom, Wolfenstein 3D etc. So when I saw his reading something off a window, it triggered my curiousity. Why isn’t he gaming, but reading something that doesn’t exactly look like a document?

He explained to me he was surfing the net. So that explained why he was dragging long cable lines into his room! It wasn’t for a phone in his room but for the Internet. At that time I didn’t understand what Internet means. But I vaguely recalled my Uncle explaining to me that the Internet is all about traveling around the world without leaving your room. He showed me how I could “visit” Disneyland without going to the US by accessing Disney’s website.

Internet addict by ~arizaNur

Typical of a 10 year old kid then, I was mesmerized with what I could do with the Internet. I could use it to access more cartoons and games, be up-to-date on Disney news and possibly use it to source information for group projects. 

While it probably sounds trivial and childish now, I was so excited by my discovery and went to school telling my friends how I visited Disney from the comforts of my home. 

Soon, I came to rely on Yahoo to search on everything under the sun. I switched from using Netscape (the first browser I used) to Internet Explorer. Eventually I got my first PC and Internet connection (the dial up tone was hypnotic) in 2000. I quickly got myself an email account via Lycos Asia. 

I also soon realized that the Internet can be a dangerous place as I came across porn ads and web-links in all sorts of places. In fact the Internet porn situation was quite a hot topic in 2000 in the local media. I was even falsely accused by my Gramps of watching porn because I exhibited the following traits (which according to a chinese current affairs TV program meant I could a porn-addict):

  • Sudden need for privacy (i.e. wanting to be alone at the computer)
  • Defensive when questioned on Internet activities
  • Closing the door when using the computer  in a room
  • Using the Internet for more than 4 hours

While the “symptoms” suggested by the TV program could be partially true for certain cases, it was certainly NOT APPLICABLE on me. But what the hell, I still got scolded by my Mum for allegedly watching porn. I was grounded from using the computer, indefinitely. Of course I still figured out how to use the computer covertly, but that’s another story for another entry. 

The Internet by ~savemedork

2 years ago, a classmate shared with the class his favorite song from Avenue Q… “The Internet is for Porn”. The Internet is definitely not all about porn, despite the cliché that porn fuels technological progress. It’s about being connected to the world.