Importance of Internet Strategy: Part 3

Takes Prospects Right to the Sale

No other form of communication comes close to turning exposure to promotion into immediate customer action as the Internet, which allows customers to make purchases immediately after experiencing a promotion. Prior to the Internet, the most productive call-to-action was through television informercials that encourage viewers to call toll-free phone numbers. However, moving customers from a non-active state (i.e., watching television) to an active state (i.e., picking up the phone to call the number) is not nearly as effective as getting people to click on an Internet ad while they are actively using the Internet.

Conveys Perception of Being a Full-Service Provider

For distributors and retailers the Internet makes it easy to be a comprehensive supplier. Unlike brick-and-mortar suppliers who are often judged by the inventory that is actually on hand or services provided at a store, e-commerce sites can give the illusion of having depth and breadth of inventory and service offerings. This can be accomplished by placing product and service information on the company’s website but behind the scenes having certain orders fulfilled by outside suppliers via shipping and service agreements. With such arrangements customers may feel they are dealing with providers that offer full-service when in reality a certain percentage of the products and service are obtained from other sources.

Lower Overhead, Lower Costs, Better Service

Internet technologies are replacing more expensive methods for delivering products and services, and for handling customer information needs. Cost savings can certainly be seen with products and services deliverable in digital form (e.g., music, publications, graphic design, etc.) where production and shipping expenses are essentially removed from the cost equation. Cost savings may also be seen in other marketing areas including customer service where the volume of customer phone calls may be reduced as companies provide online access to product information through such services as Knowledge Bases and answers to Frequently Asked Questions. Field salespeople may also see benefits by encouraging prospects to obtain product information online prior to a face-to-face meeting. This may help reduce the time devoted to explaining basic company and product information and leave more time for understanding and offering solutions to customer’s problems. As these examples suggest, the Internet may lower administrative and operational costs while offering greater value to customers.

Create Worldwide Presence

The Internet is a communication and distribution channel that offers global accessibility to a company’s product and service offerings. Through a website a local marketer can quickly become a global marketer and, by doing so, expand their potential target market to many times its current size. Unlike the days before e-commerce when marketing internationally was a time-consuming and expensive undertaking, the uploading of files to establish a website is all that is needed to create a worldwide presence. While establishing a website does not guarantee international sales (there is a lot more marketing work needed for the site to be viable internationally), the Internet provides a gigantic leap into global business compared to pre-Internet days.