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NOT ALL PRODUCTS ARE SUITABLE
FOR ONLINE TRANSACTIONS

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This kind of reporting annoys me.

The following quote is from the Dickinson Dees monthly E-Commerce Briefing. My problem is not with their article, it is with the study on which they are reporting.

"A new study by British Telecom and the Institute of Directors [IoD] has found that only 24 per cent of small businesses provide a website through which their customers can buy products. The remaining 76 per cent of small firms are failing to take advantage of a widening on-line customer base. This means they have failed to claim a portion of the GBP 50 billion that was spent via the Internet in 2005."

what is wrong with the online brochure?

What bothers me is that they seem to fail to realise [think about?] is that the majority - probably that 76% - of B2B products are not suitable for online transactions. Reasons for this include the product's specifications/quality etc that require discussion. Or the products are bespoke. Or the vendor is new to the buyer [i.e. no trust and/or relationship]. Or lead times and/or deliver schedules need to be considered. Or - and this is a big one for B2B trading - the buyer does not want to pay cash [via credit card], they want a delivery with invoice to follow. To have this arrangement the vendor will first want to check out the buyer [to make sure they will get their money].

Reports like this will likely have the effect of such business owners/managers - saying "online sales is not for me" and then continue in that line of thinking and say "so I will ignore the web as a marketing tool altogether" - and that is a real mistake.

Reports like this one cast aspersions on the 'online brochure'. I say, and have said for years, what is wrong with the online brochure? Done properly, such sites can generate prospects for the business. What is wrong with a website that describes the organisation, the products etc etc and then says "if you want more information or think we can help, contact us". After that it is up to the sales and marketing skills within that organisation - as it has always been when a prospect contacts them after seeing a brochure/advert/yellow pages entry etc.

Take a look around you, how many things can you see that could be purchased for the first time - in a B2B context - simply from a description on a website?

Of course B2C is a different animal, but most businesses trade with another business, not the end user.

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