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In the few seconds it takes you to read this another domain name gets registered at NetworkSolutions, the Internet's oldest and largest domain name registrar.

Everyone from industrial giants to corner flower shops currently wants to stake a profitable claim in cyberspace.

The lure of low startup costs compared to brick-and-mortar operations and the promise of high rewards draws an ever- swelling crowd of merchants to the online marketplace.

Yet despite the optimism statistics tell us that 80% of these "e" businesses will fail within their first 12 months of operation.

People from all over the country ask me what it takes to succeed in the e-commerce world once they've completed the basic steps for getting online.

The following three keys virtually *guarantee* success for any online enterprise.

The First Key:

A quality product or service with highly evident and readily understood benefits for consumers.

If your product or service does not represent the highest quality and value possible, and if consumers don't understand exactly why they should buy from you, the speed of the Internet will just expose your shortcomings to the marketplace that much quicker.

In the offline world a product's benefits, not the features, cause consumers to make buying decisions.

A man doesn't buy a car with a 5 liter engine because of the horsepower, he buys it for the feeling of supremacy and control he thinks it will give him.

Kids don't want a 1000mHz computer for computing power in doing homework, they want to play the latest games.

The Internet magnifies this "what's in it for me" benefits- driven evaluation by consumers.

Products or services presented with readily understood, self-serving benefits for consumers sell best online (and off).

The Second Key:

An excellent website that loads fast, provides pertinent information to targeted consumers, and allows them to make online purchases quickly and securely.

Your website should:

- Load fast by making conservative use of graphics. (Go to yahoo for an excellent example.)

- Provide exactly the information your potential customers want and need.

- Make it extremely easy for surfers to navigate your site and find exactly what they want.

- Look good on both the Netscape and Internet Explorer web browsers at various screen resolutions (640x480, 800x600, etc.).

The Third Key:

Consistent, targeted website traffic by consumers capable of buying your product or service.

Imagine buying a 50 foot billboard and, instead of putting it out by the highway, you hid it in your basement.

Nobody would see it!

The same thing happens if you don't actively and continuously promote your website to attract visitors.

With its incredible speed and communications power, the Internet acts as a magnifying glass for any organization's strengths and weaknesses. E-commerce, e-mail, and a website won't do the job of marketing, selling, and customer service for any company.

They will, however, help every organization perform all of those business functions better, faster, and less expensively with the real and tangible result of "striking it rich" in cyberspace!
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