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Information technology is one of the significant facilitators of change in the business world. Eisingerich & Kretschmer (2008) attributes this change to the pervasive and steady growth of information technology. In the recent past, internet business has become a central focus for various enterprises due to the increase in awareness, regarding computer and internet usage. Eisingerich & Kretschmer (2008) further assert that the internet is the significant driver for electronic commerce. The advent of the internet has provided opportunities to entrepreneurs to expand their businesses globally. According to Bidgoli (2002), the internet plays a critical role in modern e-business by creating opportunities for new markets and meeting the customer requirements in a timely manner. Despite the opportunities, associated with internet commerce, it comes with numerous pitfalls, which require a critical analysis before business enterprises embark on adopting the electronic commerce business model (Elaine 2003). On the contrary, the embracers of internet business are of the opinion that it revitalizes businesses in various ways by changing the links between organizations and stakeholders, hence, offering a global stage to small firms. In light of this view, this paper critically comments, and identifies the strong and weak points of knowledge in internet commerce. In addition, the paper identifies the lessons that businesses can learn from the growth of the internet business.
Namchul (2002) defines information systems management as the use of technology to ensure that there is effective execution of business functions. Internet business incorporates numerous forms of technology that are relevant to information systems, which include online transaction processing, electronic data interchange, and internet marketing (Krizan & Merrier 2007). The World Wide Web is the platform for conducting business over the internet, which is manifested through electronic commerce. The nature of internet business involves access to virtual content over the internet, and physical transportation of goods. This form of business can take various structures, which includes business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B). Information system management bears the process of gathering, handling, storage, distribution and use of the internet business’ information resources (Michael et al. 2000).
There are numerous strengths, associated with internet business, with the most notable strength being that internet business ventures have the capacity of acquiring global visibility, using frameworks for internet marketing such as search engine optimization (Mohini 2002). An offline business enterprise relies on branding and customer relationships. Most online customers are likely to land accidentally on an internet business website by following links from search results. The clients who accidentally find themselves on strange internet business websites are liable to study the website and grasp few web contents and may even end up making an impulse transaction. Elaine (2003) infers that internet business enhances the global presence and visibility of enterprises.
The second advantage, allied to internet business, is the lower costs of operation (Maria 2010). This is an advantage to the business owner and the clients. The lower cost is mainly due to the removal of a number of phases in supply chain processes; hence, businesses can use this strategy to sell their goods and services at a lower cost compared to businesses that operate offline. The lower cost of operation does not just come automatically, but some factors set it up for the owner of the business. The cost of advertising is covered up in search engine traffic and the social media. This method of advertising can be cost effective and covering a wider area. The less or no personnel to investigate payments, billing, inventory management and other operational procedures drastically lowers the number of personnel that would have been employed.
The third strength of internet business is that customers are able to trace a product quicker without physically moving from one aisle to another. The website does the above function by providing search boxes and navigation buttons, which when clicked displays products according to categories (Syed & Mahesh 2000). Additionally, navigation buttons narrow down the search, reducing the time the client takes to locate a product. Several websites recall the clients’ tastes and preferences, emphasizing on repeat purchase. Easier product location means increased sales to the firm since many online shoppers tend to give up easily. The basic inference from this is that internet business eases product distribution than conventional business models. Internet business offers relevant information about a product. The vendor provides the information, which does not create additional costs to maintain (Chaudhury & Jean-Pierre 2002). The internet has no limitation to the size of information the seller provides to buyer in contrast to a physical store. Such information helps buyers to make the correct choices before making a transaction. An important characteristic of internet business is that it offers a framework for product review and feedback by the customers. This allows clients to leave comments, which are displayed, to next clients, visiting the site. Clients perform a role of advertising the business to themselves through the display of comments on the product. Businesses can use this information to improve quality and product/service delivery (Westland & Theodore 1999).
The fourth strength, associated with internet, business is that it eliminates geographical limits, when conducting business, which is a significant limitation for physical stores (Sudweeks & Celia 1999). With the advent of globalization, internet business is likely to go international, opening the business to a wider market. An e-commerce online site can be viewed from any place in the globe. This has a benefit that results in an increase in the market demand, which, in turn, increases the sales and profits (Michael et al. 2000).
Despite the strengths, associated with internet business, there are pitfalls that online businesses face. It is not just obvious that any online business is expected to succeed. The weak points of internet business have resulted in the failure of some businesses. The first drawback is that the internet subjects the business enterprise to the laws and regulations of the country, in which the website can be accessed. The legal provisions for some products that should be accessed by individuals under stipulated age should be observed (Krizan & Merrier 2007). Failure to honor the rules might result in blocking of the website in that particular region, which might result to losses. It is imperative to enquire from a legitimate lawyer, concerning international commerce laws during web hosting before embarking on an online business model.
Lack of trust among online customers is another significant pitfall, facing internet businesses. Hackers are targeting commercial sites with the aim of making free purchase or redirecting cash on purchases to their accounts. When such information gets to the clients, they tend to shun away from purchasing online (Jean 2001). A simple comment like this is enough to scare most of the clients, which means loss of sales to the business owner. Trust can be achieved through a personal relationship with clients, which is impossible in internet business. However, taking precautions is not enough since most of the clients will not be comfortable, offering their credit card information on the internet (Krizan & Merrier 2007).
Internet business is full of copycats who will do whatever it takes to affect business by providing unethical competition. It is possible to copyright your website, but the cost is outrageously huge. It is important to stay ahead of competition, but with such practices internet business seems to be impeded. This incapability to patent an internet business site is a disadvantage to investors in that line of business (Lynch & Leslie 1996).
Lessons from the internet business are essential to support and protect the business model from being ruined. The first lesson is to respond promptly to clients complaints. This is due to the prevalence of frauds and privacy issues, linked to the internet. Small complaints are likely to spoil the reputation of the website, leading to reduction in traffic (Murray 2012.). It is important to address the minor issues before the website is blacklisted. Another lesson businesses should learn is to get customer feedback, whenever they purchase from their online store. Feedback enables a business owner to position himself to acquire whatever the client might need next he or she visits the company’s website (Elaine 2003).
In conclusion, information systems management has played a key role in the growth of the internet business by facilitating collection, manipulation, storage, distribution and utilization of the internet business’ information. Internet business has significant advantages than offline businesses because the online business model facilitates faster product search, lower costs of operation and conquers geographical limitation. On the other hand, the weak points of the internet business model include copycats, subject to laws and policies in countries, where the website is accessible and lack of trust among online buyers. However, there are some notable ideas that should be employed in making the internet a better place for doing business. The ideas include response to client complaints by business owners and request for customer feedback.
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