Looking to sell your product on-line? International nets, not just for chatting.
Haywood, the president of Al Turbo Exchange in Santa Monica, Calif., loves the sound of souped-up cars because they may be carrying his turbocharger. Attached to motors to boost power, the charger makes cars and aircraft use less fuel. To Haywood, they are the sound of money: Sales have already topped $1.5 million and he's been in business for little more than a year.
Moreover, Haywood's market isn't just youngsters who want to make a ruckus. Just last week he filled a $6,000 order from a Saudi Arabian company. Within the last year he has serviced companies in Canada, Mexico, Japan and Russia. The former Santa Monica county employee credits his Web site for connecting him to buyers all across the world.
Haywood got started on the Santa Monica-based World Business Exchange (310-396-2000), an online service for small business owners. "Society is getting digitized, wired, networked, virtualized and connected," explains Roosevelt Roby, president of the World Business Exchange.
The Internet, the backbone of the information superhighway, and commercial online services have become shopping malls for the average consumer and small business owner. No definite sales figures exist, but Roby estimates that $100 million in goods are sold online every month.
Information Week, a communications publication, reported that in the first seven months of 1995, companies - a tiny subset of the World Wide Web universe - took in Web-related revenues of $25 million.
Furthermore, Forrester Research Inc., a market research firm in Cambridge, Mass., estimates that companies spent $10 million to advertise on the Web; the firm's analysts predict that that figure will hit $2.2 billion in 2000.
Smaller companies that want a global reach are skipping expensive travel costs and setting up Web sites to show their goods. Potential customers - retail store buyers in England, entrepreneurs in African countries or chic boutique buyers in Japan - cruise the Net and cut the deals.
Many entrepreneurs, unable to get their products into either department store chains or specialty shops, are vying for direct sales from Internet shoppers, explains Roby.
You can take many routes to spotlight your products online. For example, black-owned WBE lets you offer your products on its network for a $60 one-time set-up fee. After that, you pay $25 per month. To get your own Web site, it costs $300 up front for set-up costs and $60 per month to remain online.
InternetMCI from MCI Communications just introduced Marketplace MCI, an electronic shopping mall for consumers. It costs about $50 to set up a basic site, then each month you pay $9.95 for the first hour and $2.50 for each additional hour.
If you want to dabble with your small business peers, consult the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's International Business Exchange (IBEX). Small business owners can buy or sell products to a fellow member, national or international chambers of commerce and to some trade associations. Install IBEX software (prices start at $250), then enter your offer to buy or sell products or services. IBEX searches its system for potential matches, then alerts you by fax to turn on your terminal and examine possible offers.
For more mainstream online options try America Online (800-827-6364) for $9.95 per month plus $2.95 per hour after the first five hours. NetCom (800-353-6600) charges a $25 one-time registration fee and a monthly fee of $19.95. With this service, you get 40 free hours of online time plus unlimited usage on weekends and weeknights.
Before you rush out to create your own Web site, invest in market research to ensure that your product is wanted on a global scale. Government databases can assist you in analyzing your niche market and fine-tuning your marketing plans. Call the U.S. National Trade Databank for info about their online services (202-482-1986). Consider FedWorld for free global market research; its Best Markets Report highlights the exact products that various countries want to buy.
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|Title Annotation:||on-line marketing services for small business|
|Date:||Feb 1, 1996|
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