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How can the Internet help my business?

If used properly, the Internet can be a very powerful business tool, helping you to serve customers better, increase productivity, and importantly, help to drive up profits. These days more than ever before almost every organisation needs to make sure they are getting the most out of the internet.
The Internet is the worlds new information infrastructure. It consists of millions upon millions of networked computers around the world in homes, schools, universities, government establishments, offices, and more.

The examples we provide below try to show just how the internet is changing the way companies and people are doing business together, and perhaps offer clues as to how it can be better used in your own business situation.

Supporting your employees on the road

Providing your sales team or employees on the road with vital timely information can help them to carry out their work more effectively and efficiently. Email can be used to send, receive and modify important documents such as contracts, invoices, etc. Important relevant information can be provided securely over the Internet from the company web site, examples are:

  • sales presentation materials
  • pricing information
  • business contacts
  • business competition information
  • sales hints
  • product instructions
  • component specifications
  • parts lists
  • engineering drawings
  • client location maps, etc.

Providing up-to-the-minute information

It's very important to keep your customers, suppliers and business partners up to date with information they need. Your web site can be easily updated to provide the very latest information offering increased client and customer satisfaction and all round improvements in information distribution.

Increased dissemination efficiency

The costs and time scales associated with information production and distribution can be greatly reduced. Making on-the-fly changes to current information is also greatly facilitated. Traditional paper based information distribution is often very expensive to produce, difficult to modify and resource intensive (not forgetting environmental considerations).

Improved business communication

The Internet greatly improves general and day-to-day business communications. Email facilitates lines of communication between companies and among employees at all levels. Direct lines of communication can also be constructed between business partners, suppliers and important customers.

Collaborative product development

Internet connectivity enables organizations to work more closely together facilitating product development. Engineers can electronically exchange design information including CAD models, component and material specifications, etc., greatly decreasing lead times while increasing overall design flexibility. The web site can be used to test and develop new products before launch by researchers and customers. Project leaders can be kept up-to-date with project status information via email and/or desktop applications (Microsoft Project) integrated into secure private sections of the web site or internal Intranet.

Electronic commerce

Internet encryption and security technologies enable enterprises to provide on-line shopping using integrated credit card transaction facilities. Electronic commerce technologies can dramatically reduce the cost of order fulfilment and distribution. It presents an ideal trading mechanism for mail order companies, software vendors, booksellers, information service providers, etc. Purchase orders, invoices and bills of lading can also be exchanged through tight web integration with customers and suppliers.

Opening International Markets

The Internet spans the globe, the corporate web site located in Birmingham, England can therefore be accessed just as easily in Tokyo as it can on home ground. This introduces excellent opportunities to market products and services to overseas clients offering them immediate access to your products and services.

Opening a dialogue with international markets is now as simple as with a company in the same town. For companies with overseas offices, the corporate web site is a boon, enabling colleagues at these offices to access up-to-date information, produce reports, etc., all for the price of a local phone call.

A recruitment tool

The Internet provides an excellent recruitment channel for universities, government agencies, private commercial enterprises, recruitment consultancies, etc. In general better quality applicants, having a good familiarity with modern technology, can be resourced on the Internet.

A 24 Hour Global Service

The corporate web site is available to serve customers, business partners and suppliers 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year in all time frames and geographical locations. Commerce is global but your working hours aren’t, Internet technology therefore provides a convenient excellent commercial marketing tool.

The Internet as an excellent marketing tool

The Internet presents an additional marketing facility creating new opportunities to increase sales, offer better customer care and increase customer satisfaction, thereby significantly increasing the commercial competitiveness of your organization. The following examples illustrate how the Internet can be used as an effective marketing tool.

People Networking

It’s not what you know it’s who you know, as every smart businessperson is aware. The global and 24hr nature of the Internet provides a channel to facilitate business networking. Corporate web sites and email offer opportunities to present yourself and your enterprise to millions of potential customers worldwide.

The Internet is the great equaliser

Small organisations can now compete on equal terms with much larger corporations thanks to the Internet. A business may be small in size, but its web site can be as innovative, creative, and as functional as any much larger organisation, this is where quality counts – not quantity. A small company can show it is innovative, keen and ready to serve its customers by making good use of Internet marketing strategies.

Testing new products and services

Effective marketing research of new products and services has always presented many challenges, and often proves very expensive. Confidentiality is also a prime concern. Using the Internet as a testing facility can pay dividends, both in terms of received test data and in cost.

Visitors to your web site participating in a test marketing operation can offer fast feedback, accurately and securely, producing a better informed view for your organizations positioning of the new products or services within the marketplace. Researching costs are also minimized due to the absence of expensive marketing materials such as brochures, questionnaires, etc., requiring publication and distribution – often more than once.

Research and Information gathering

The Internet provides an enormous amount of information from government data, international trade information, requests for bids, stock quotes, company information, economic and demographic data, industry standards and specifications, materials data, weather forecasts, world news and events, agricultural information and outlooks, patent and trademark information, etc. There are also thousands of Internet Newsgroups, these are discussion forums concentrating on particular topics. They offer a wealth of vital information and can often provide useful relatively immediate help with problems.

Reaching a demographic marketplace

The demographic of the World Wide Web user is probably the highest mass-market demographic available. Often college-educated or being college educated, making a high salary or soon to make a high salary, it's no wonder that Wired magazine, a choice magazine to the Internet community, has no problem getting Lexus and other high-end marketer's advertising. Even with the addition of the commercial on-line community, the demographic will remain high for many years to come.

Reaching Specialized Markets

There are now approximately 100 million Internet users (and rapidly growing) around the globe, this offers enormous scope for those wishing to market almost any specialized product or service however narrow the interest group, from flying lessons, children’s games, teaching materials, art reproductions and fish tanks to advanced polymer materials, precious gems, engine components, industrial water seals and electronic components, etc.


A Newsgroup is a discussion forum concentrating on particular topics of interest, they become invaluable sources of information, help and advice. There are thousands of Newsgroups around the globe dedicated to all manner of topic including specialist computer programming languages, bird watching, astronomy, Shakespearean literature, marketing, science topics, engineering topics, financial strategies, etc. A Newsgroup will encourage and foster discussion between those who have an interest in your particular product or service area. Keeping an eye on the contents of a Newsgroup can offer valuable marketing information.

The Internet increases customer satisfaction

Improving the perception of an organisation and increasing customer satisfaction are vitally important ingredients for success. There are a number of ways a corporation can increase customer satisfaction through the Internet.

Providing Immediate access to Useful Information

A corporate web site that is available around-the-clock providing vital up-to-date information helps customers feel they are being served by a business that cares for them – increasing customer satisfaction. Product updates, technical help, instructional aids, product specifications, guarantee/warrantee information, servicing arrangements, opening times, spares ordering, location maps, support information, etc. Forms can be provided to help customers search for available colours, style and sizes. Customers can use forms to evaluate loan arrangements or mortgages, calculating costs and benefits there and then. All help to not only keep the phones quiet but facilitate customer care and foster customer satisfaction.

Building closer links

Creating a secure Internet link between main customers also helps to cement bonds and improve relations and co-operation. It also improves efficiency in many areas such as product development and information transfer generating substantial cost savings.

Giving the Customer time

Potential customers like to be given time to evaluate new products and services. They need this time to convince themselves they are getting the best price, or the highest quality, or a better service. A business can use its web site to provide the information a customer needs and the time to evaluate.

Purchasing choices

The Web site can offer customers alternative purchasing channels. Traditional channels such as telephone numbers for immediate ordering can be displayed as can the location of the nearest retail outlet. Additionally customers may be able to purchase directly from the web site.

Multimedia benefits

Interactive multimedia is a great sales aid. Imagine a customer dragging fashion accessories onto a model with the computer mouse! What about letting the customer sit in the driving seat of new car - using a mouse and a wrap-around interior view, the web site visitor can view the internal space of the vehicle from any angle. How about letting a customer hear part of a record before purchase. Web technology today has advanced sufficiently to enable sound, video and moving graphics to enhance any product or service.