|As the Internet continues to grow, features and technology become more complex and high tech, leaving many businesses feeling lost or confused.
So, this column is going back to the basics to explain some general terms and solve the great lingo mystery: What is the meaning of e-commerce?
The word e-commerce can't be found on the Merriam-Webster dictionary Web site (http://www.webster.com), but WhatIs.com (http://www.whatis.com) defines e-commerce as the buying and selling of goods and services on the Internet, especially the World Wide Web.
In addition, you may come across terms like e-business, which refers to the general activities involved with running an online business, and e-tailing, which describes a business that handles online retail sales.
Going back to the WhatIs.com definition quoted above, the terms Internet and World Wide Web are introduced. These terms are widely used, but, for the record, when a person is talking about the Internet, they are talking about the vast, worldwide network of computers and the applications that people use to access the information on that network.
Some of the most popular applications include e-mail, the World Wide Web and newsgroups. Therefore, the World Wide Web is simply one part of the Internet where you can view Web pages that display specific information.
And, the same goes for e-mail. E-mail is another part of the Internet that allows for electronic-based messages to be transmitted from one location to another in a very short period of time.
Today, many business are interested in getting into e-commerce, or at least think they should be learning more about it, and why not? An e-commerce Web site can open your business up to an entirely new customer base.
In order to create an e-commerce side to a business, there are several concepts that a business owner must understand.
First is the domain name. This is the www.yourcompanyname.com that people will type in to view your e-commerce information. Also called a Uniform Resource Locator (URL), the domain name should be short, easy to remember and easy to associate with your company. For more detailed information, review the Dec. 1st, 2001, column, "Personalized Domain Name Essential For Professional Web Site."
Next is the concept of your actual Web site. The Web site consists of all the pages that display your company, product and service information via the World Wide Web. Usually, the pages are designed and coded by professional Web site developers to accurately portray your company, safely collect and handle customer information and optimize the pages for the Internet.
The third concept addresses how your Web page is delivered to the viewer or customer. It is important to understand that all Web sites reside on specialized computers called servers that are connected to the Internet 24 hours a day and built specifically to deliver information quickly and reliably to any person requesting it.
Because of the cost of these servers and the fast connection to the Internet that is required, it is normal for businesses to outsource this service to other companies called hosts. Hosting companies can reduce the cost by sharing the servers and connections with other Web sites.
Finally, the last few concepts I would like to cover revolve around promotion. Just like a traditional business, it is important to have a marketing plan for your Web site, whether it is part of an existing business or a stand-alone venture.
In other words, how are people going to find your Web page?
By default, many newcomers just assume that people surfing the Internet will just find their Web site. But, when you consider just how many Web sites are out there, it quickly becomes clear that this isn't very realistic. A much more proactive approach is needed.
So, most people begin with search engines. These are Web sites that catalog other Web sites. Some of the most popular examples include Yahoo!, Google, MSN and LookSmart.
Basically, a person goes to one of these search engines and types in keywords to begin a search. Whichever Web site they are using will search through its database and provide a list of results that match the search terms that were given. Then, the user can click on each result until they find what they were looking for.
Clearly, having your site listed in the major search engines is very important. For more information on getting your site listed, check out "Search Engine Secrets" in the Nov. 1st issue of The Yuma Business Direct.