E-commerce is a new aspect of business that was introduced by the several technological breakthroughs which have been witnessed in information and communication technology (ICT). The development of the internet brought with it a sea of possibilities key among these being the fact that people could easily communicate millions of kilometres away by overcoming geographical barriers.
The ease of communication between people who are far away from each other led to the exchange of ideas. This online interaction made it possible for people to begin transacting business online, thus the birth of e-commerce. This is a type of commerce in which good and services are exchanged online. It also incorporates the online activities that are done to improve brand visibility, such as advertising and promotions.
The first way of doing e-commerce is a process in which a company produces goods and services that can be exchanged online. Such goods include computer soft wares and e-books. In such transactions, the buyer contacts a seller mainly through the seller’s website and places an order for the given product. The buyer is then directed on how to make payment. This is done online, and the buyer is offered a dialogue box in which he or she inserts his or her credit or debit card number. The card, in this case, must be internationally accepted (Albert, 2006). After keying in the card number, an amount that is the price of the product is deducted; thereafter, the buyer is allowed to download the product.
The other model involves the basics of the transaction, e.g. marketing being done online. The client and the buyer meet online, and the buyer gets to the goods specifications in which he or she is interested in. After this, the buyer makes the payment as would be the company policy and waits for the seller to deliver the goods. This takes place when the goods can not be physically exchanged.
AusNet thus belongs in the latter category. This is a firm that operates in the exchange of products that can not be exchanged online and uses the internet to increase sales.
E-commerce business model
Given the products that the firm sells, it would assume two business models which are, business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) (Jiaming, 2008).
The B2B aspects would come into play when the Australian firm is to receive some goods from other companies located in the United Kingdom. B2B referrers to the relation that exists between two or more business ventures, a given business venture would be selling or buying some products from yet another business venture. AusNet is of this type. It gets its supplies from other established businesses oversees and it sells some of its products to yet other established companies within and without Australia.
The B2C is the relationship that exists between businesses and consumers. In most cases, it is the consumers purchasing products from the business. AusNet is also one of these types as it is both a retail and wholesale outlet. It sells its products to both individual consumers as well as other businesses that are in the long run going to sell the very products to other consumers elsewhere.
For a start, the two business models will be the only models upon which AusNet operates but there is still room for the inclusion of other models depending on the clients that the firm will have in future. With the government ministries coming in as potential customers, business to government model would be included. The structure of this young firm would thus remain open to any change and restructuring so as to accommodate any relevant structure that it comes by.
Sources of revenue
E-commerce brings a variety of sources of revenue to the firm. The first and main source of revenue would come from business transactions. AusNet operates in the purchase and sale of such agricultural products like greenhouses, pots, sprinkling equipments, propagation tools among many others. The profits made from the sale of these products form the basis for the operation of the business, and this would be a key source of revenue to the firm.
Additional revenue would be generated through online business transactions. E-commerce reduces the cost of doing business, and these would be translated as proceeds in the firm’s books of account. It also provides for easier ways of advertising as the company can advertise its products on its website. This further reduces the cost of advertising.
Some other companies that deal in similar or related business would also present their interest in advertising their products in the AusNet’s website. Companies that offer agricultural consultations and counseling services and even colleges that offer degrees and diploma courses in business and agriculture would prefer to advertise their services online, and such websites would be important. These firms would pay AusNet for their adverts which would be posted on this websites, and this is additional revenue that comes with neither cost nor investment.
Network and communication infrastructure
Setting an e-business would require a number of network and communication infrastructures, these include computers. Online trade rely heavily on computers as it is the number one gadget that offers a plat form for soft wares on which online parameters operate.
The several computers in the firm would require a network set up such as a Local Area Network-LAN. These are strengthened with a centralized storage system, with such a centralized system, the filing system would be in such a way that every employee who is looking for a file to effect a transaction can easily obtain one without wasting time locating the file. Online businesses rely on time and everything including feedback must be given on time. The LAN ensures that all the computers within the network are connected at no additional fee and this makes it a cheaper mechanism in the long run.
Video conferencing facilities would also be necessary so that virtual meetings are organized without the need for employees to travel to venue of the meeting.
Security is always an issue of great concern to every online business. Buyers must be assured of the safety of their money once they give out their card details. The firm will therefore have an enhanced data storage system which is strange to the market so as to make it difficult for hackers. The android operating system for mobile devices and the ubuntu are some of the recommended systems that the firm would prefer to normal XPs. The use of passwords that would be changed at intervals would also ensure that monotony does not occur.
Below is an illustration of the laid down infrastructure through which E-commerce would be implemented.
Individual computers in the firm interconnected to ease their accessibility to the cloud services. The firewalls prevent most of the unwanted feeds and helps keep hackers at bay.
The e-commerce environment presents a number of needs especially on brand visibility. A given product needs as much publicity as the firm can offer in the shortest time possible. Advertising is therefore important for the success of the business venture. The opportunities which the internet offers for advertising are unlimited, social networking sites are nowadays the most preferred, and these sites give the advertiser a one on one interaction with potential buyers.
The firm, AusNet would therefore hold a number of accounts for popular social networks like face book and twitter. Theses accounts are useful because only those interested in the firm’s activities would like their fan pages. Every single post that the firm places would therefore reach the target audience and this is a type of advertising that comes at no additional cost, save for the connection charges.
The fact that the firm will be having a web site and run several social sites does not mean that it ignores other modes of advertising. The common modes of advertising in the press are still important and consequently the firm will run regular adverts in both national and international dailies. The firm can consider running advertisements in popular magazines and newspapers educating potential customers on available offers, changes in prices, improvement of quality and other changes on goods sold by the company.
AusNet to this day accepts only the Australian dollar as the currency of transaction. This will however change when the firm goes on line, the online aspect of the business means that it will have no geographical limits as clients would come from all parts of the world. The most convenience currency of operation will therefore be the universally accepted currencies such as the American dollar and the euro. The Australian market will be the only target allowed to buy products using the Australian currency because requesting Australian buyers to change their currency into the dollar would result into loses for them and this would consequently result in the firm losing its Australian market. This can be a catastrophic occurrence to the existence of the business.
Online payment mechanisms are several and the firm will make use of credit and debit cards which are internationally accepted like Visa card, the master card and the JCB by to effect transaction. The Australian market will have many other mechanisms including the mobile money transfers. The safety of these online payment systems have been tested and proven in the past and they are not likely to present a confusion that would result in either the firm or the buyer incurring loses.
Issues concerning ethics and the conducts of people on the internet have been of much debate both on the internet and the mainstream media. Privacy is such an issue, the firm, AusNet will ensure that the privacy of their clients is respected and their details are not leaked to any other quarter that would be of irrelevance to the trade. Card details such as the numbers are private and confidential information. The value of a product that a client has purchased, his or her location and the mode of delivery that will be used to get the product to him or her are some of the information that when leaked to the general public can lead into instances of ambush, attack and hacking. The firm will treat all its clients as anonymous as possible. This anonymity makes it hard for anybody to know the credentials of a specific buyer. In addition, the firm would only hire individuals who are incorruptible and those whose moral standards cannot be compromised. Such employees would also be educated on the importance of maintaining such high moral standards. High levels of discipline will also be maintained so that managers and staff only engage in those activities which benefit the firm at the right time.
AusNet will follow all the legal issues and be registered as a firm in Australia. It will thus follow all the registration requirements placed by the government (Maria & Joao, 2011). Besides, the firm will put in place other legal measures, some of which will be necessitated by the online pattern which would ensure smooth operation and these include:
The firm will provide its clients with proper receipts of the transactions undertaken in the firm. The online transaction will be issued with the e-receipts which the buyer would be free to print and file. After delivery of the products, there will be a physical receipt given to the client and this would go alongside a delivery note that would have to be signed by both the delivery man and the client. Such documents will be useful when a client lays a claim of any mal service. The database that the firm shall have will be able to file the copies of receipts both alphabetically and according to the serial numbers, these would make retrieval of the vital documents easy. To ease communication within the firm, it would be wise for the management to recognize any e-mail as a legal means of communication and be used as a legal document and should need be, as evidence in the court of law. These unique features of the firm will be made clear in the terms and conditions segment so as to avoid instances of confusion.
The firm will also have legal representation most probably an advocate who will be representing the company during legal processes. Before expanding to international markets, it would be wise for the firm to familiarize with laws governing trade in different countries. Online expansion is also likely to result in the firm having more clients and this increases the likelihood of more legal battles, the legal representative is therefore likely to be a very busy man or woman.
Customers form the life of the business without which the venture would be liquidated. The manner in which the firm treats its customers would determine whether they stay or leave the firm and should they leave then the existence of the firm is threatened while should they stay then the firm would prosper.
In an attempt to retain customers and appeal to as many more as would be possible, the customer relations department will be constituted and it will be made up of the most cautious individuals. Terms and conditions will be made accessible to customers and the services that the firm offers be communicated on time. Speed is of essence for the survival of online businesses and the firm would ensure that no customer is kept waiting for any reason whatsoever (Roland & Giuseppe, 2008).
The ethical concerns raised by the clients will be looked at and dealt with the confidentiality that each and every client requires.
A number of offers will be run so as to attract as many customers as the market would offer. For example, the firm can give gifts for items bought. The company can give customers a free item for every two that are bought on cash. When entering new markets, the company can begin by giving free samples to customers for them to go and try them out. Such a strategy will increase the turn up of customers which will increase sales. The firm will boast of quality and peg all their products on quality. These will run along side a warranty provision for the warrantable goods. Any good that will be bought and get spoiled as a result of the manufacturer’s mistakes will be repaired or replaced at the expense of the firm.
The success of the firm will be measured against laid down predictions. These predictions will be set in accordance with market trends that prevail at the onset of operations. The provisional predictions will be as presented on the graph below:
Albert, N. (2006). Creating a winning E-Business. New York: Cengage.
Jiaming, Y. (2008). Computer Supported Cooperative Work in Design. Melbourne: Springer.
Maria, C., & Joao, V. (2011). E-Business issues, challenges and opportunities for SMEs Driving competitiveness. Cincinnati: Hershey PA.
Roland, W., & Giuseppe, P. (2008). E-Commerce and web technologies: 9th International conference. Dublin: Springer Publishers.