Internet and E-Commerce
Having a sharp website and successfully leveraging the Internet can really boost your business, while e-commerce has enabled a whole new breed of retailers and wholesalers. But jumping online without understanding the business and legal implications of the internet can expose you to a host of problems. This section contains resources to help you build website traffic, use electronic signatures, launch an e-commerce site, register a domain name and explore other small business issues pertaining to the internet and e-commerce.
Building a Business Website
A website is a practical requirement for most businesses. The internet is an enormous marketplace and consumers frequently research their purchases online before visiting a physical location. A website provides a valuable opportunity to inform potential or current customers about your goods and services. A simple solution to establish an internet presence would be to create a blog and there are many venues that can help you establish a blog with little or no difficulty or expense. For a blog to be successful you should regularly update it with new and interesting content.
Building your own complete website is another option. This requires selecting a domain name and finding a host and/or website development software. Some companies offer packages that include all three of these items. You may also wish to transact online. You can place your products in an established online marketplace or set up pages on your website that allow users to select and purchase your products directly from you. If you haven't got the time or patience to build a website it is always possible to hire a web developer to do it for you.
Choosing a Domain Name
Choosing a domain name is like choosing your business's name, but with some additional considerations. Like the name on your sign out front the business's domain name is an early indication what you are selling, or an opportunity to communicate about your product's qualities, or your brand's identity.
Although you may first consider simply using your business's name as your domain name it can sometimes be better to choose a more descriptive title relating to the services or products you offer. This may also be a practical necessity if someone else has already registered a domain name identical to that of your business. This is a common problem that, in some cases, can be circumvented by choosing an appropriate alternative suffix to the commonly used ".com" suffix. However you generate your domain name it is wise to ensure that it is relatively short and easy to remember and spell.
Protecting Company Data
Companies increasingly collect and handle their customer's personal data. This may include addresses, credit card data, social security numbers, and other valuable information that hackers and other unscrupulous folks would like to steal. The Federal Trade Commission recommends determining what personal data the company holds or has access to, keeping only the data you need, protecting the data as necessary, properly disposing of data you no longer need, and creating a plan of action before a data breach occurs. Data loss can cost a company enormously, both in an immediate financial sense, in liability for mishandling client's valuable data, and in consumer goodwill.
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