The E-Commerce Opportunity
A secure e-commerce Web site can provide businesses with powerful competitive
advantages, including increased online retail sales as well as streamlined application
processes for products such as insurance, mortgages, or credit cards. E-commerce credit
card sales can be especially lucrative: according to independent analysts, cash
transactions on the Internet will reach $9 billion in 2000, and $30 billion in 2005.
By offering products and services on the Web, businesses can gain unique benefits:
· New customers: Anyone with an Internet connection is a potential customer: millions
around the world are already using the Internet for business transactions. Web
storefronts are open 24 hours a day, and require no investments in brick and mortar.
· Cost-effective delivery channel: Many products and services, such as software or
information, can be distributed directly to customers via the Web, enhancing the
customer experience and increasing profitability by eliminating the shipping and
overhead costs associated with order fulfillment.
· Streamlined enrollment: Paper-based enrollment workflows are fraught with delays.
Applications for insurance, a mortgage, or a credit card, for example, can be held up
in the mail. And once received, application information must be entered into
computer systems manually, a labor-intensive process that can introduce errors. By
accepting applications via a secure Web site, businesses can speed application
processing, reduce processing costs, and improve customer service.
· Better marketing through better customer knowledge: Establishing a storefront on
the Web positions enterprises for one-to-one marketing—the ability to customize
products and services to individual customers rather than large market segments. The
Web facilitates one-to-one marketing by enabling businesses to capture information
about demographics, personal buying habits, and preferences. By analyzing this
information, enterprises can target merchandise and promotions for maximum impact,
tailor Web pages to specific consumers, and conduct effective, tightly focused
No business can afford to ignore this opportunity. But businesses also can’t ignore the