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Monday, December 10, 2001

The secret of e-success
Purva Kansal

DOT.COMS with strategies gone awry went bust. A lot of them closed down while a few are still doing a roaring business. Especially so in the case of commercial portals that were in the cyber world to hard sell some product or service. Some survived, others perished.

There are more than 1.6 million commercial sites on the Net with an annual business exceeding $-3.8 billion per annum (i.e. 25 per cent of retail sales). Amazon.com, Hallmark.com, Archies.com, Bazee.com, Chiragdin.com, CDNow.com etc. are a few of the commercial sites that have made it big on the Net.

The success of the company depends upon its ability to attract new consumers and retain old ones but most of the portals are not able to do so. So what is the underlying success formula? Take the case of Yahoo! one of the most popular portals. Yahoo! attributes its success not only to the technology but also the fact that its CEO actively solicits and always responds to e-mail from customers. Similary, despite recession and dotcoms going bust, J.C. Penny Co. Inc, a Texas-based company, expects its online sales to reach $ 40 million target this year, all because of its smart strategies.


Virtual trust

Sites become popular or unpopular because of their approach. Inspiring trust among the consumers is a must. For example, in the traditional shopping methods, a customer visits the shop and on the basis of what they see develops a perception of the retailers and company’s goodwill. It is difficult to get the same feel in case of online shopping, which prompts reluctance on the part of the consumers to give out sensitive information like credit card numbers etc. Thus, a same feeling of trust needs to be promoted by the e-tailers among their customers this can be done by including personal touches and pleasing graphics, remembering customers by name, suggesting merchandise based on past purchases, enabling customers to save personal information. In short, customising the site according to choice.

Positive emotional experience

Customers are likely to buy when the experience is rewarding and pleasurable. On the Net, emotion is dependent upon the type of the product being considered and the level of buyer sophistication. If the product matches the level of the sophistication of the buyer then the experience is pleasurable and prompts the buyer to buy again. The inferences about the product quality are made from the sellers Website design. The Website should not be drab. It should have attractive colours, graphics and images, however, designers should also remember not to overdo it, as some of the customers have older versions of PCs without much memory and downloading the detailed page may take too much time. The seller also can increase customer involvement by allowing them to share their experiences about the product with others.

Ease of use

In traditional shopping method we always have a salesperson ready to help and solve our problems. More cordial a salesperson is, the more we visit the shop. This helps the seller to gain a competitive edge over others. The same is the case in virtual world. More attractive and easy to use a Website is, the better are the chances of it being revisited by the customers. Thus, a Website should be consumer friendly. Like it could have popup menus, easy flow of information, facility of feedback, queries and follow-up.

In order to win the customer’s online Internet retailers have to start by getting noticed. Advertising and incentives can help drive consumers to the site. Once the site has traffic, it must convert surfers into friends and friends into shoppers. By being a consumer-oriented Website, a seller may increase the involvement level of the consumers and thus prompt loyalty among consumer that will help increase the life span of the Website.



India to enter China via Singapore
Rosemary Arackaparambil

INDIAN IT companies can use Singapore as a gateway to enter the Chinese market, relying on the island state’s profound cultural links to both China and India to ease communication and grease the wheels of business, speakers at a venture capital seminar said last week.

Ethnic Chinese account for 77 per cent of Singapore’s population of 3.9 million, and Indians 8 per cent. Mandarin is one of the island nation’s four official languages, and Tamil, a major language of southern India, is another.

"The timing is right and the opportunity particularly attractive for IT co-operation with Singapore," Bobby Choonavala, chief executive of Singapore-based Twinwood Engineering, a publicly-listed Singapore company endeavoring to remake itself into an information technology services firm told Reuters. "The India-Singapore Venture Capital Highway" was one of the sessions at a two-day seminar on private equity investing in India that began last week in Mumbai.

Panelists said Singapore and China can be attractive markets for Indian IT service companies because of strong domestic demand, prompted by a thrust by both governments to popularise IT usage. Singapore’s legal, financial and telecommunications infrastructure, and the presence of many global IT multinationals there were also cited as major attractions. Edmund Yong, senior investment manager of Singapore’s EDB Investments Pte that manages $-4 billion, told the seminar that 13 Indian IT companies had already set up operations in Singapore, employing 850 IT professionals.

Many are looking at increasing their exposure to the Asia-Pacific region. A major impetus has been the slowdown in IT spending in North America, which now accounts for more than 60 per cent of the Indian IT industry’s export revenue.
Great neighbours Singapore is not only a potential market or business base for Indian IT companies. Southeast Asia’s wealthiest nation is also quickly emerging as one of the most important sources of venture capital and private equity financing for India’s entrepreneurial-driven IT industry.

But China, the only nation with more persons than India and thus many of the same population-based competitive strengths, presents a dilemma for India’s top technology companies.
On the one hand, the Chinese market is immensely appealing — huge, fast growing, dynamic, the sort of market any company with global aspirations ignores at its peril.

But many experts also see China as an emerging low-cost threat to the Indian software services industry. Some Indian technologists view China’s keen interest in inviting Indian companies to set up operations there as a Trojan horse strategy. They fear the Chinese will quickly use the experience to learn what they need to develop domestic competitors that, in time, may overwhelm their Indian mentors.