E-Commerce and the SME

September 30, 2004 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
As the internet begins to realise much of the consumer potential that analysts were predicting at the height of the dotcom boom, many small and medium size businesses are in danger of being caught out by technically minded and e-commerce savvy companies.

These firms utilise low setup costs and ever more flexible advertising opportunities to dramatically reduce their cost-of-sales and further bring down their overheads. In growth areas this is allowing every penny to be pumped into marketing and advertising, ensuring rapid cash flow and excellent return on investment. These conditions are starting to result in a real threat to the traditional sme.

Within the travel industry analysts have already predicted trouble for the small high street agent;

"The Internet may account for one in every four travel purchases in the main generating markets within the next five years'. World Tourism Organization Business Council' (WTOBC). 2004

So what can these under threat firms do to counteract the seemingly unstoppable object? Well a change in approach must be at the forefront of any move forward

A recent survey of attitudes and beliefs carried out by The National Business-to-Business Centre discovered that whilst sme's held a positive attitude to e-commerce, the perceived cost and complexity of the area was often a barrier to entry.


Simon Parkhouse of consultancy firm ishopnet (http://www.ishopnet.co.uk) notes, "It is understood that companies do not have the time or resource to understand all the issues and implications involved with online trading, but they really do need to get an overall idea of what the major issues are. By taking a top down approach an informed decision can be reached about future direction.'

Evaluating and choosing a good technology partner to move forward with is key, and any technology firm worth their salt should guide and educate through the process. E-commerce isn't about wizzy computers, techno jargon or spotty teenagers in glasses, its about knowledge, flexibility and speed of response;


How can you combine your specialist market knowledge with expert technical knowledge to offer you and your customers a new sales channel and quality shopping experience.


How flexible can you afford to be? The best online shops can add and drop suppliers and products at the drop of a hat, and will allow you to reach whole new geographic markets.

Speed of response

Any online shop should offer a suit of real time reporting allowing simple and effective analysis giving the power to spot the trends as they happen not after they've happened (and you've just sold out). Ensure you react before your competitor by knowing what's happening in your market place as it happens.

A good technology partner should take away the technical complexity behind these issues allowing you concentrate your efforts on doing what you do best - keeping your customers happy!

Ed Gardner works for e-commerce consultancy ishopnet who specialise in online trading systems for the small and medium sized enterprises. You can contact him at egardner@ishopnet.co.uk and he's happy to give help and advice wherever possible.