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A hitchhikers guide to e-commerce

Tips on how to make your e-business the success it should be

By Chris Van Heart - 10th October 2000 - Back to News

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“An E-business! What a great idea. I'm up for that one,” you say. “Why, I could sell just about anything...” There is your cue to stop. Although there is almost certainty that someone else would like your product, chances are that they may never find your site.

When contemplating products to sell on your website, consider that not all things will make a successful return on the net. Unless the product is well known prior to it’s launch into the online world, chances are it will be incredibly hard to build a following.

Some products are difficult to sell without the customer having tangible access to the object open for debate. After all, would you spend a fortune on a signature scent you never had the opportunity to smell?

Sometimes it is better when you are not quite game for the original approach, and instead selling items which are tried and true - commonly known offline. You may just be lucky enough to find customers who will buy from you simply for the convenience.

Others amy still be open for the creative approach - an idea so brilliant it simply needs to be out there. Bear in mind that this invention must be incredibly unique, yet useful to a large amount of the population, (ketchup flavoured ice-cream perhaps?). Without this, sadly there is little hope that you will be able to out-do competition and sell well over the internet.

Possibly the best indication of what sells well on the internet relates directly to commonsense. If you are willing to purchase an exact product on the internet, others may also.

Why not survey a portion of people you would consider to be your target market? After all, the customer is always right.

Not only are there personal choices that may restrict your selling rate, but legal requirements as well.

Often there are items which are – due to legislation – unsuitable for trading. Things such as illegal drugs are obviously not the best choice for a product line.

Other ideas may also complicate matters, such as laws that may effect some people, but not all of your possible consumers, thus blurring the line between a plausible product and a total no-go.

Items like cigarettes are illegal for minors to purchase or posess, but may have been an option for those of age.

Always remember that the internet is an OPEN world wide business scape.

Although your customers are likely to be based locally, you will need to be aware of prohibitions elsewhere – regulations which then apply to you, in shipping for example.

Be sure to get the best legal advice before launching your e-business, to protect yourself from liability.

Some ‘hidden’ areas on a global level that you may not have even considered are taxes, customs and duties – amongst other things. There are many points to learn before the e-endeavor leaves shore.

It is a good idea to keep a database or record of the change in currency to keep your budgeting tight and accurate, saving you time and money. Employ the help of a lawyer and accountant to clarify these issues for you.

Seeking advice from professionals is not something to look down upon. Do not think “I should know how to do this”, but consider that you are taking responsible action to protect and build on your e-business with confidence, freeing up your time to work on something else.

This article is by no means an attempt to discourage keen entrepreneurs from paving their way in the e-commerce world, but rather a hitchhikers guide to getting there and back - with positive return - alive.


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