1. Its too big to ignore
The number of Internet users over the age of 16 in the U.S. and Canada has reached 79 million, while the number of people buying products and services via the Web has hit 20 million according to a June 1998 Nielsen Media Research and CommerceNet study on Internet commerce. The study said that the number of US & Canadian Internet users had increased 36 percent since their last study 9 months earlier. The study also shows that the number of Web shoppers -- people checking out or comparing products and services on the Web -- is now 48 million and growing at an astonishing rate of 8% per month. And what about users throughout the rest of the world?
A recent survey by The Thomas Register says that 58.4% of the companies surveyed said they would use electronic commerce for at least 25% of their purchases in the next 12 months. At a recent publishing conference, analysts predicted ecommerce could reach $1 trillion per year by 2000.
Most forecasts predict that Internet retail sales during the 1998 holiday season will reach 3.25 Billion Dollars! No matter what your business is, you can not afford to ignore this market. And you can't service them if you are not on the Web! Do you know what your competitor's are doing?

2. To Network
A large part of business is connecting and communicating with others. How often do you pass out your business card to someone you have just met? How often has a chance encounter turned into a big sale for you? Suppose you could be telling your story to hundreds, or thousands of people every day - 24 hours a day? You can on the World Wide Web!
Its amazing how far this networking can go. Recently, we were recommended to a potential client in Long Island, New York by a friend of his in Nebraska. The friend had seen our web site and been impressed. In another case a satisfied client of ours in Pennsylvania recommended us to a company within his industry located in Germany. The first order that our customer New York Italian Food Specialties received from their web site www.salami.com was from Tokyo! And that customer continues to reorder to this day. The world is getting smaller every day!

3. To Tell the World About Your Business
Just what is basic business information? Don't just think of a Yellow Pages ad. Its a lot more than "What do you do? Where are you located? What are your hours? " Suppose you had a score of salesmen manning your phones 24 hours a day who could instantly answer virtually any question. "Can I see a product brochure? What's on sale today? Can I order it now? Do you service my area? What kind of experience do you have . . ." If you could provide this sort of information to your customers and potential customers and tell them how they can benefit by doing business with you, do you think you would do more business? Well you can do this at a low cost on the World Wide Web.

4. To Service Your Customers
Providing business information is certainly one of the most important ways to serve your customers. But, a large percentage of companies who are extremely satisfied with their presence on the WWW point to increased customer service at lower costs as the reason for their success. Have you ever used the FedEx, UPS, or US Postal Service web sites to track down a package? Remember how long it took you to do this before the Internet?
We recently installed a UPS tracking service on a couple of our web sites. In the first 2 weeks of December 1998, 56 people used the tracking service at www.salami.com to track their orders. That's 56 customers who were serviced better and 56 phone calls the guys at Salami.com didn't have to make.
If you look at better ways of serving your customers, you'll find even more ways to use WWW technology. How about making forms available to pre-qualify for a loan?, or have your staff do a search for that specific part your customer needs without spending time taking down the information on the phone? You can do all of this quite easily on your web site.

5. To Increase Public Awareness
You might have difficulty in getting a National Magazine like Time to write up your business, but they might write up your Web Site if it contained something new and interesting. Even if you managed to get a story about your business in a national magazine could you benefit from someone in a distant city reading about it?
With a Web Site anyone, anywhere, at anytime can access your web information and become a potential customer. Our customer's www.salami.com site has been written up from Shanghai to Russia. They have been featured in Business Week Magazine, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, The Detroit Free Press, Newsday and many, many more. Once, they were even asked to address via video conference a convention of Italian Industrialists in Bari Italy! They have even had stories done on TV about them on CNBC! Not bad for two Italian Grocers from Long Island, N.Y.

6. To Sell Things
Most people think this is the number one use of the World Wide Web. We placed it here because we think you should only think about selling things on the Internet after you have done all the things we have previously mentioned.
Why? Because building a business in cyber space is really no different than building a business in the real world. It doesn't happen by accident. You have to market and publicize your business. Government figures show Internet commerce totaled more than $8 billion in 1997, but is expected to grow to more than $300 billion by 2002. The right use of your web site can get you into this exploding market.
Currently 1.6 million small businesses are on the Internet with an estimated one million more joining them this year. 25% of these businesses say that their Internet presences have generated increased sales. But what about the rest of them?
Too many people think that they can put up a web page and miraculously the mailman will start delivering checks to their door. Too many companies put up Web Sites and then ignore them. You have to incorporate your web site in your overall marketing effort Think of it as a tool like the telephone. By itself the telephone won't sell anything. But it is a tool which allows you to communicate with your customers, which then allows you to Sell things
The number one deterrent to selling on the Internet is the credibility of the seller . Think about it - would you have a problem placing an online order with Macy's or Lands End? Certainly Not! Because they are known entities. Before people will become customers they want to know more about you. They want to know what you do, and how it will benefit them. You can do this very easily and inexpensively with your web site. Then you will be able to turn your web site visitors into customers!

7. To reach a highly desirable demographic market
The demographics of WWW users shows them to be a very upscale group. They are members of the highest mass-market demographic available with high income and high levels of education and professions, consider these statements:

* The mean average household income is $53k (USD)
* Close to 17% of US Internet users report incomes in excess of $75,000.00
* 45% have a college degree or better. An additional 35% have some college education
* 42% of users surveyed are married
* According to FIND/SVP's 1997 American Internet User Survey the average Internet user is 36.5 yr. old
* 32% are between the ages of 31 - 45
* More than 40% are women

There is a lot of disposable income within this group and they have demonstrated an ever-expanding willingness to purchase online. In fact, the number one reason they give for purchasing online is that it is more convenient!

8. To Answer Frequently Asked questions
The people who answer your company's telephones and those of your customer services departments can tell you that they spend a large amount of their time answering the same questions over and over again. These are the questions that customers and potential customers want answered. Put the questions and answers up on your web site and you will make it easier for them to do business with you. Not to mention freeing up a number of hours of your staff's time every day!

9. To Create a 24 Hour Service
How often have you forgotten to make a phone call to the opposite coast at the right time of day. Face it business is becoming more and more a world wide operation. And everyone is operating on a different time schedule. But with your Web Site you can serve your customers, clients and partners 24 hours a day - seven days a week. And without overtime!
You can customize information for your visitors which will be available to them at their convenience. You can collect valuable information that will put you ahead of your competition while you sleep! This morning there were 8 requests for information from potential customers waiting for me when I turned on my computer, and its like that practically every day. How would you like to start every day with 8 new qualified sales prospects!

10. To Make New or Changed Information
Available Quickly.

Some times information changes so quickly you are stuck with a pile of outdated brochures or have just spent the money to mail out new price lists and information only to have to do it all over again. Electronic Publishing on the web solves this problem no paper, no printer's bills, no postage! You can even operate an inexpensive mailing list program on your site to publish information to your customers and potential customers as soon as it exists. You don't even have to wait for them to visit your web site. You can go out and get them!

source: http://www.beonthenet.com