Wednesday, September 28, 2005

MAKING THE INTERNET WORK FOR YOUR BUSINESS

We all know the Internet is changing the way the world does business. But how can you make it work for you?

For the most part, companies are unhappy with their investment in building an Internet site. They are usually disappointed in the pay off.

Even if you are moving from a simple web site to handling online transactions and perhaps adding online customer relations management, you may be far away from exploiting the opportunities of an online business.

In the rug industry, involvement with the Internet usually falls into three categories:

  • Online Retailing
  • Product information web sites by both retailers and vendors.
  • Vendor sites with b-to-b sections for retail customers.

Which category pays off better and has the higher return on investment?

Before you give the answer here are a few principles you might want to know for the sake of your online business.
Starting a website doesn’t make you an online business.
You can not use the Internet as a stand-alone new business and simultaneously as an additional channel to conduct a traditional business.
This is a common problem for those who try to use the Internet as a part of their broader business strategy, entailing all the ways customers do business electronically: touch-tone phone, fax, e-mail, kiosk, handhelds… Plus the Web???
This approach has not worked in any industry. Here are some examples:
Who won the Internet book war? Barnes & Noble, Borders, or Amazon.com?
Who won the online auction war? Sotheby’s, Christie’s or eBay.com?
Who won the online computer war? Compaq, HP or Dell.com?
Why would it be different in rug industry?
My advice: Instead of making the Internet an extension of your business, start from the scratch.
Start your full functional online carpet store now!

A website should be truly interactive.
A professional Internet business site should have an interactive component. Visitors prefer entering information to get to results. If you have 20 web pages full of products but not a single search tool, then you can forget about making the Internet work for you.
Companies frequently design their web sites as their printed catalogs. Links are inserted to some collection names, sizes, colors, etc.
That is not interactivity.
A site that asks questions about prospects’ home or office and locates matching products would make more online business. Imagine a website that asks visitors about which room they want to the rug for, the color of their furniture and curtains, personal information to understand their style preference, budget and perhaps which designer’s opinion they want . Using all that interactive information, the site search then displays a list of matching products.

Internet retailing is becoming a price game and “outernet” retailing is becoming a service game.
It is easy to check and compare prices online. Prospects can even use agents to do this job. Check out such sites as
http://www.dealpilot.com/, http://www.nextag.com/, http://www.shopping.com/ and http://www.buy.com/ to see how easy it is to get to cheaper prices.
If all the customer really wants is the absolute lowest price, then the place to shop is the Internet.
However, physical retailers should not despair. Their challenge is to find the selling proposition against low price.
Touch and feel is the one which comes first to mind. Return costs and delivery time for online purchases are others. However, branded rugs which are absolutely the same for every retailer, can be easily compared and will shift to online retailers’ domain,
Bricks and mortar retailers can shift their product range to non-comparable unique rugs or develop additional services to sell well known brands locally.

Developing a Profitable Online Business
Whether you are a local retailer targeting consumers or a wholesale resource focusing on further integration with your dealers and suppliers, you must set up your online rug business strategy to exploit opportunities.

B-to-B: The Treasure in Our Own Backyard
B2B E-COmmerce software for rug industry - Dealers only and more software

Some of the real treasure of the Internet can be discovered in our own back yards, the B-to-B approach to Internet commerce.
The Internet can be used to build global relations between supply and distribution networks. Online business is much easier and cost saving between businesses. The touch and feel is not a problem at all since suppliers offer sample shipments. Return policies and delivery times become a cost advantage in B2B E-Commerce. Product costs can substantially be reduced by shortening the value chain.


An analogy for understanding how B2B commerce could benefit rug sellers, is the Cisco case study. Cisco is the company that literally built the internet infrastructure. Additionally Cisco is the champion of B2B online business. 75% of its total revenues comes from business to business online commerce. The use of the Internet to facilitate business-to-business relations, has achieved big numbers for Cisco. The lead time needed to fill orders was reduced from three weeks to three days. While the total revenues grew 500%, the number of employees required to service requests has grown by only 1%.


Distributors of Cisco in Europe enter orders online. The company which manufactures the products for Cisco in China receives distributors’ orders and ships items directly to distributors. Cisco doesn’t even carry the inventory, or deal with any logistics. It’s a seamless information and product flow with a global range.


Some rug manufacturers and importers operate similarly and do very well in the B-to-B back yard. You can see the evolution of their web sites. Once simple product display websites now have “Dealers Only” links. Once “Dealer Only” pages now have online ordering, order tracking and additional functions. And still there is so much to do in the backyard.


Before getting involved in on-line retailer wars, it is suggested that rug businesses check B2B opportunities and identify profitable areas to replace inventory with information.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Rugbird.com Version 2.0 is released

Oriental rug sellers can start their online rug store instantly with “Ready to Run Online Rug Business” tools at RugBird.com. The new released version includes global shipment and order handling fee calculator, advanced shopping cart designed for oriental rug purchases and seamless integration with PayPal to receive online payments. See Rugbird.com's functions

RugBird.com offers oriental rug sellers a complete web site with rich functionality. Sellers can receive online orders and payments, publish online oriental rug catalogs, and send online proposals, product information and rug images via their online store at RugBird.com.