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E-Commerce -- the good, bad, and the just plain ugly of it!
Article by Joseph M. Lenard

You hear the term everywhere: Electronic Commerce, or abbreviated to E-Commerce.
More and more individuals are turning to the Internet for their purchasing convenience. I myself, just this past Christmas (1999 season), purchased more than 50% of my gifts online. I was able to obtain great pricing, and didn't have to leave the comfort of my home. I saved hours of time and countless degree of frustration by avoiding the mall. That's right, if you know how to do it, or more-so where to go (and I'll be sharing that secret [links] with you), shopping online can be quick, simple, and save you a lot of money (as well as frustration). Plus, it was all delivered right to my home!! CONVENIENCE at its best.
You've heard about it, but have you experienced it?
There are many reasons people haven't yet shopped online. The reasons are generally:

Let's touch on each of those reasons briefly...
Lack of Internet access
The shear number of those obtaining new access to the Internet in and of itself is a staggering number, and a whole different story. Today there are many alternative Providers to the Internet (rather than the original big 3 home Service providers of AOL, CompuServe, and Prodigy) including some with which access to the Internet is FREE. That's right, FREE! AltaVista, BlueLight (from Kmart), freeI , Juno, and NetZero are several of many such alternatives. I know, sounds too good to be true so - How do they do that? The simple and short answer to the question is: Advertisements! Advertising plays a significant role in the Internet. It is the Advertisers that pay the costs associated with connecting to the Internet in hope their Advertising investment will be returned through click-throughs (clicking on an advertisement to visit their site) and a subsequent sale of a product or Service.
With some Free Internet Service companies you obtain Free dial-up access, though these are traditionally slower speed connections, to the Internet but must view a small Advertisements window. With others you are not required to view a special window but rather Advertisements appear throughout the Pages that you view. AltaVista, BlueLight, freeI, Juno, or NetZero Services are great avenues for those new to the Internet, or Personal Computers for that matter, to start to learn how to use the Internet, with NO additional investment other than having a PC with a modem.
Faster connection speeds and/or Full Service Internet access is available through many local and National Service Providers (known as ISP's). To locate an ISP, refer to your local Yellow Pages under Communications and/or Internet Service.
Computer use in-experience
As people (Users) become more comfortable with Computers and the Internet, many seek out the additional avenues the Internet opens up for them, including E-Commerce Services such as Online shopping. As with all things in life, it takes time to gain experience. The same manner in which you by no means need to be an expert on cars to successfully operate a vehicle. One doesn't have to master the principles of Electricity to understand how to effectively plug in and operate electrical equipment. Likewise, you don't have to understand the in's and out's of the Internet to successfully navigate and make use of the convenience that it will offer you. In time you will grow more and more comforatable with the use of this "tool" as you have with any other.
Internet security
Some beginning Users, or those unfamiliar with Computer Technology, are intimidated about the Internet's security and whether or not Personal information and/or Financial information is safe and secure. Not all sites are created equal in this catagory either, it is important to shop with a Service that will provide the highest degree of "Secured Server" transaction technology. No form of payment, in any given situation, is 100% safe. Criminals, unfortunatly, are resourceful and find ways to circumvent even the best safeguards society puts in place. In general, though, use of the Internet for Commerce is no more risky than placing telephone orders and/or providing a Credit Card at a Register for payment at the Mall. All these transactions transmit your Credit Card information, and can/may be intercepted.
Information privacy
Let's start by asking this question: Why do many sites require that I become a Registered user?
While one might speculate that the motivation is to collect as much information about individuals so as to sell these names in list form to Junk Mailers, that speculation would (for the most part in todays climate) be off-base.
To address the concern expressed by the question above, the trend is toward information protection of clients by providing you in writing the sites "Client information protection" policy in the form of a "Privacy Statement". It is simply NOT in the best interest of a legitimate operation to record your name and personal information for resale to a "Mass Mailer", but rather in their interest to keep you as a customer. In order to do that most companys offer the online assurance, that a Privacy Statement provides in writing, of what their policy is in regard to information you provide while using the organizations site(s).
Further, it is also in the site owners, and your best interest, to maintain a list of "Registered members" for the following reasons:
    Purchasing power
    Product targeting
Lets examine each of those reasons. First, for the same reason you might join a "Discount Outlet" membership, such as a Sams Club, by registering as a Customer you demonstrate that you are indeed truly interested in shopping at the site owners location. Secondly, you, and all others, form a Client base that allows the site to negotiate better prices. Just as your local Discount Club store offers you reduced pricing on Bulk sales of a single item, a site store that can boast of a Million members can negotiate prices based on Bulk by the shear number of Clents. Use of Marketing trends will demonstrate the expected/potential sales of the sellers product based on the Client information that a site obtains from you, their Registered user, without having to share any Personal information about its Clients/Members. In turn, the savings will be passed on to you the loyal customer. A "General Public" site, that does not collect visitors information until the point of sale, may give up some of that negotiating power.
Product targeting is another reason a firm would want information about their customers. A site with visitors generally under 21 is more likely to sell Music than Mutual Funds, and adjust their product offers accordingly. While this is a VERY BIG generalization, it makes the basic point - In general customers will choose an establishment based on their product offerings first, and the site/store will offer additional product offerings based on their customer base accordingly.
Advertising is our third example. Advertising plays a large part in Internet operations, as we briefly outlined in our "Internet Access" section. By selling advertisement space on a site, portions of the overall cost of running the online business can be defrayed. Keeping their costs down, obviously, helps them to keep your prices down.
Too many places to shop online
Others are intimidated by the number of sites available to shop (you need to go here for one thing, there for another, etc...) I can say 'That's not true, anymore!'.
The question becomes one of preference. Do you want convenience of "one-stop" shopping, the best price per item, etc...
The Internet affords countless, and growing daily, outlets to purchase products and services. If you are a bargain hunter, you have the opportunity to check pricing at a large number of sites offering the item of your choice without having to jump in the car and visiting every store or making countless phone calls to check your local establishments prices. There are many "one-stop" type shopping outlets that give you the convenience of quicly finding everything you're looking for at one site, payment at one site at one time, delivery from one establishment, etc.... Freedom of choice in action!
Impersonal Service
Many dislike the impersonal Service offered by Electronic Shopping sites, Quixtar provides one location that helps to take that out of the equation. With Quixtar you have a Personal point of contact. If you are not comfortable with the Online site and/or the Online Help available through Quixtar Customer Service, you will have a Personal point of contact. This is just one of many leading the way into the next generation of Internet shopping sites by having local representation to provide that local "face" and "name" for those who desire personal/local assistance. If you're comfortable with Online shopping and want to jump right into the savings, try any one of the shopping locations from the listings on the right; or to try Quixtar, write down this number: 847560, as you will need the referral number to join and click here to visit the Quixtar site and signup as a Client, or Member, and give a 'whole new Online Shopping experience a try! We're talking BRAND NAME products here! such products from:
    CD Universe
    Ocean Essentials
    Office Max
    Sharper Image
    Toys 'R Us
    and many, many, many, more!

E-Commerce Business Opportunities
Still others are more interested in the Business side of E-Commerce. Well your day has come! You can become a E-Commerce business owner. You can either contact me click here for information. This is the Internet, after all, so if you are interested you can use the Techno-approach and view the online interactive thefutureofbusiness by writing down this referral number: 82305949 and visiting thefutureofbusiness site and learn all about it for yourself.
I'd like to Thank you for visiting this brief overview of E-Commerce, and I hope that I was able to provide you with a little insight to the E-Commerce corner of the Net. For your "one stop Resource to the Best available on the Net" visit: Web-Links.
If you would like to comment on this article, or have any questions, feel free to EMail! me (click here). I'll respond as quick as possible.
For additional Online Articles/Commentary visit:
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Copyright disclaimer: AltaVista, AOL, BlueLight, CD Universe, CompuServe, freeI, IBM, Juno, Kmart, NetZero, Ocean Essentials, Office Max, Prodigy, Quixtar, QuixNet, Sams Club, Sharper Image, thefutureofbusiness, and Toys 'R Us are Registered Servicemarks and/or Trademarks and therefore protected by respective Copyright and/or Trademark Laws of the United States of America. All Rights Reserved to the respective owners and the organizations names being contained within this Site does not constitute an endorsement of use by, or for, any related Services and/or Products, nor an affiliation of mentioned orgranizations.

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