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E-Business Secrets

The results are in: Readers hop on mom-and-pop sites
There is strong support for larger businesses too

By  Brian Livingston January 07, 2003  

Before the holiday break, I asked my readers a simple question: Would you like me to provide more tips on one-person/mom-and-pop e-commerce sites, large sites such as Amazon.com, or both (or some other answer)?


The answer came in loud and clear, with Mom-and-Pop Sites getting more than half the vote:

54% - Mom-and-Pop Sites

04% - Large Sites

38% - Both

04% - Other

That isn't the whole story, however. Another way of looking at these figures is to credit the votes for "Both" to each of the two categories: Mom-and-Pop Sites and Large Sites. Distributing the vote for "Both" this way, we get:

92% - Want more on Mom-and-Pop Sites

42% - Want more on Large Sites

Because almost half of my readers, by this measure, want more tips on the secrets of large e-businesses, I'll keep including this information whenever it reveals something that smaller sites can take advantage of, too.

Readers had an enormous range of views, including some provocative ones that I've excerpted below:

VOTED FOR MOM-AND-POP: "How many of us are really a part of BIG business even if we work for a BIG business? In that vein, I think every one of us finds more in common with the trials and tribulations of a small business. Add to that the simple fact that whether you are small or big, you always want the thing with the best ROI. Small businesses can't afford to spend a lot of time, money, or effort on any one thing, while big business should know better than to spend a lot of time, money, and effort on any one thing. What is true for one SHOULD be true for the other." -- Michael J. Hudson

VOTED FOR BOTH: "As a college professor of MIS, I get a lot of complaints that there is little info on e-commerce available for Mom-and-Pop operations. Certainly, there is a dearth of cases in this area. Consequently, I would like to see more of this. However, I would not want the larger companies to be left out of your discussion either. Hence, I indicate 'both.'" -- Dr. William H. Moates, Associate Professor of MIS, School of Business, Indiana State University

VOTED FOR OTHER: "E-commerce is not limited to for-profit sites. Government and non-profit organizations often have e-commerce programs, or are in the process of developing/enhancing them. And the e-commerce spectrum includes not only the large sites and the small, Mom-and-Pop sites, but also a ton of sites in the middle. Working for a $50 million/year organization, I have noticed that the middle is too often forgotten. We can't afford the stuff the 'big boys' buy -- stuff that usually has a minimum entry price greater than $100,000 -- but we often need the same functionality." -- Jim Logsdon

VOTED FOR OTHER: "I responded 'other' because I subscribe for the e-business insight you impart. I would prefer to see more emphasis on e-business and less on e-commerce. Let me explain my semantics:

"E-business leverages intranet/extranet/internet technology to serve end-user needs, be they internal staff, business partners, or external.

"E-commerce focuses more narrowly on maximizing traffic to one's site, delivering eyeballs to advertisers, and turning hits into sales. I found the choice of three e-commerce options (large, small, both) and 'other' to be limiting for a newsletter titled 'E-Business Secrets.' Maybe you should take a poll to discover what proportion of your readers are engaged in delivering business solutions based on Web architecture versus trying to sell something using a browser." --Dave Garman, Director of Software Architecture, Acecomm.com

I'd like to thank everyone who responded with good ideas such as those above. The four readers whose comments were reprinted will receive from me a gift certificate for a book, CD, or DVD of their choice.

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I wrote last month about Marketing Sherpa, whose reports on the effective use of e-mail newsletters have really opened my eyes to some remarkable ideas. Now they've done it again by releasing a huge study evaluating the numerous companies that provide e-mail publishing services for clients large and small.

The "Buyer's Guide to E-mail Broadcast Services" illuminates the pros and cons of developing your own e-mail service vs. leaving the nuts and bolts to a specialized company. What's remarkable about the buyer's guide, though, is the level of detail it provides on the 52 vendors that are profiled. Each provider is described in its own seven-page section, including more than 100 aspects of its service. Can you track results by the source of each subscriber? Does the vendor support separate text, HTML, and rich media versions of newsletters? It's all in here.

Whether you already have an e-mail publishing service or you're just now thinking about finding one, you'll discover a wealth of information in these 462 pages: http://www.sherpastore.com http://bri.li/4e7a

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Now that 802.11 wireless networking, or Wi-Fi, has proved itself as a viable technology, it's a perfect time for you to install or expand your own network in your building or local area.

"The Wireless Networking Starter Kit," by Adam Engst and Glenn Fleishman, is an ideal way to get up to speed on designing, installing, and troubleshooting Wi-Fi hot spots and other devices. I especially liked the "Future of Wireless" section, which alerts you to coming upgrades in hardware and software. The wireless revolution is inevitable, so why be tied to a desk? See: http://www.amazon.com http://bri.li/0321174089

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1. Microsoft's IM service down Monday for hours: http://www.siliconvalley.com http://bri.li/442

2. Free shipping drove holiday gains; has it become mandatory? http://ecommerce.internet.com http://bri.li/82a

3. Simple text links are hotter than banners and skyscrapers now: http://www.clickz.com http://bri.li/c12

4. The story of a 22-year-old hacker, now a security consultant: http://www.spectrum.ieee.org http://bri.li/ffa

5. E-tailers find it pays to send an actual, printed catalog: http://www.catalogagemag.com http://bri.li/13e2

6. Dot-biz name buyers get final refunds for illegal lottery: http://technology.nzoom.com http://bri.li/17ca

7. One line of code tells you if any book is in your local library: http://dylan.tweney.com http://bri.li/1bb2

8. Performance secrets of Internet Explorer and IIS finally revealed: http://www.grotto11.com http://bri.li/1f9a

9. HTML tips: How to make forms your visitors can actually use: http://www.webmasterbase.com http://bri.li/2382

10. It's January. Br-r-r-r. Why not buy a Caribbean island on eBay? http://www.reuters.co.uk http://bri.li/276a

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My week isn't complete without a dose of the offbeat comic book series, "Joy of Tech." It's the kind of geeky humor that your grandparents wouldn't get but provides a smile for your day. The installments come with a strong Mac bias, but the gags (immortalized in posters and such) can provide even hardcore Windows users with a few hilarious notions, such as the Bill Gates Stress Relief Dart Board. The latest comic strip is at: http://www.geekculture.com http://bri.li/c3aa

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E-BUSINESS SECRETS: Our mission is to bring you such useful and thought-provoking information about the Web that you actually look forward to reading your e-mail.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: E-Business Secrets is written by InfoWorld contributing editor Brian Livingston: http://SecretsPro.com

Research director is Vickie Stevens. Brian has published 10 books, including:

Windows Me Secrets: http://www.amazon.com http://bri.li/0764534939

Windows 2000 Secrets: http://www.amazon.com http://bri.li/0764534130

You'll receive a gift certificate good for a book, CD, or DVD of your choice if you're the first to send Brian a Top Story or Wacky Web Week he prints. mailto:Brian@SecretsPro.com

Brian Livingston is publisher of BriansBuzz.com. Send tips to him at brian@briansbuzz.com.

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