Thursday, November 22, 2007

Why This Is The Perfect Time To Start Charging For Website Subscriptions

If you're a writer, researcher, subject matter expert, enthusiastic hobbyist, or an authority on almost any topic, there has never been a better time to start your own subscription website or online newsletter.

And if you're already publishing a hobby website, now is the ideal time to convert at least a portion of the content to fee-paid access.

Smart website owners are now realizing just how valuable their hard-earned knowledge is to others. Much of the information that used to be available for free to anyone and everyone on the World Wide Web is moving behind closed doors, accessible only to paying subscribers.

Savvy writers and publishers are not giving it away anymore. They're setting up profit-driven, members-only websites and building online communities of subscribers who value their knowledge. Perhaps surprisingly, resistance to paying for content is gradually melting away.

The end of free

This trend away from websites offering free information and toward a subscription, or pay-for-access business model, has several causes.

First, only a few websites operated by big companies can afford to provide valuable content without being compensated. Some of them can do it for the public relations value, but they are the exception.

The rest of us can't be so generous. And trying to recapture our expenses by selling advertising on our websites has failed to pay the bills. Online advertising and click-through rates are on the decline.

Second, many people are now more than willing to pay to learn what you already know, as thousands of online publishers of subscription websites have already proven.

Why subscribers are ready to pay

The Internet has enabled people with similar interests to find each other and form online communities. Whether your interest is in politics, gardening, or model railroading, the Internet enables you to connect to others who share your enthusiasms and values.

But in the current political and social climate, there is heightened anxiety and concern about privacy. If you previously contributed to public online discussion forums, you may now be feeling vulnerable. You never know who is lurking and reading your comments, or gathering information about you. One frequent concern: what spammers are harvesting your e-mail address?

However, in the seclusion of a subscribers-only website, you feel more protected. You can share ideas with an affinity group of like-minded people with less fear of ridicule or repercussions. The publisher moderates the forum and promises to honor your privacy.

These concerns are not diminishing over time, they are intensifying as people perceive the world -- and cyberspace -- as an increasingly dangerous place. The result has been a proliferation of private, members-only, subscription websites and online newsletters covering literally hundreds of diverse and specialized topics.

Finding the right subscription business model

Coming up with the right topic for a successful subscription website is usually the biggest stumbling block for those wanting to get into this business. Choosing your site topic is a serious issue, as the topic you select pretty much dictates your chances of success with a subscription website.

Research by the Subscription Website Publishers Association ( shows at least five successful models for subscription website topic selection. These include existing print newsletter topics; trade and professional associations; career advancement, personality based or insider tips; and downloadable product libraries. For details go to

As the Internet changes, it is creating moneymaking opportunities for people who like to write, teach and otherwise share their expertise. Your years of study, hands-on experience, and tried and true wisdom could be worth a hefty income when turned into an online community.

Online communities bring together people who are interested in a common topic. They create value by providing insiders' secrets that the group is eager to learn about. And best of all, the members are willing to pay money to join.

Why having a subscription website on the Internet is so great

As the publisher of a subscription website, you have an almost unfair advantage over other print publications that don't operate on the Internet. Consider the benefits:

  • Low cost of entry -- a computer, minimal software and Internet access are all you need.

  • No or low rent -- work from home.

  • Low overhead -- production and distribution costs are close to zero.

  • No employees -- do it all yourself.

  • Operate from anywhere in the world.

  • Access a worldwide audience.

  • Reach a well educated, affluent market.

  • Offer a visually rich website, with text, images, audio or video.

  • Sell and deliver digital information products instantly.

  • Build loyal communities through discussion groups, online events.

The next phase in the subscription website evolution

Information is increasing in value. Over the next several years, the trend to information provided on the Internet by paid subscription will continue.

A two-tier model for the dissemination of quality content is emerging. Successful online publishers provide samples of their wares for free, either on the public portion of their website, or through a free, opt-in e-mail newsletter.

But to get down to the most valuable data -- the premium content of secrets and the insider's tips and techniques -- subscribers are learning that they have to pay. Information seekers are getting accustomed to the change, just as they have learned to pay for premium content on cable and satellite television.

The most successful online publishers will be those who can strike the perfect balance between free and fee. The time to get started with your own subscription website is now.

E-marketplaces from Sellers Perspective

What is an E-marketplace anyway?

E-marketplace is a business to business web based venue, where buyers and sellers meet online, generate business leads and conduct business transactions. The e-marketplace features are tailored in a manner so that a large numbers of buyers and suppliers can be serviced as a community. A participant of an E-marketplace can be a buyer, a seller or both. Unlike an E-distribution portal which is oriented to assist suppliers selling their products or an E-procurement system which is focused on buyers solely, an E-marketplace is a platform which caters buyers and sellers equally. As a participant of an E-marketplace you are able to explore buying and selling opportunities, make sales offers and buy products and services, add products and services to aggregated e-catalog and use numerous other value added features.

E-marketplaces are tremendously beneficial to all businesses that decide to participate in them. However, the potential benefits that a company can accrue from an E-marketplace are directly proportional to the factor - how heavily the company uses the offered features of that E-marketplace. Naturally, a company that makes e-marketplace as its primary sales channel and integrates its sales resources to supply chain solutions of the E-marketplace avail more in sales and administrative overhead cost savings, reduced paper work, better customer service, reduced product distribution costs and online sales growth than a seasonal user of the e-marketplace.

A committed participant of an E-marketplace can benefit from and improve two primary factors of company productivity: Revenue Growth and Cost Savings.

Revenue Growth

Expand Customer Base

A seller, once registered with an E-marketplace, gets immediate access to a large community of prospective buyers of his products or services.

Revenue Increase from Existing Clients

Existing clients get faster and easier access to product information, quicker response to their requests, get better customer support and buy products online.

Revenue Increase from Value Added Services

Once an E-marketplace is set as primary sales channel, freed resources can be used to create more value added services for clients. Some of the services that the E-marketplace offers also can be utilized to generate more value.

Cost Savings

Order Processing Cost

The supply chain solutions of E-marketplace allow sellers to reduce order processing cost significantly. Studies show that cost of processing a purchase order can be reduced from US$ 70 down to US$ 6 only.

Sales and support costs

By automating sales and customer support processes companies can reduce over head costs over 25-30% easily.

Inventory keeping costs

Clearer visibility and forecasting ability allow companies considerably reduce inventory keeping costs.

Most executives agree that primary reason why they feel that the companies should participate in E-marketplace is its ability to streamline supply chain mechanism. Many inherent inefficiencies of supply chain process can be eliminated thanks to integrated to e-marketplaces supply chain solutions.

What sellers have to do in order to participate in E-marketplaces and reap numerous benefits that it can provide?

As most of the administrative and operational tasks are done automatically by the e-marketplaces, participation in them is not a difficult process.

These are the basic steps that a seller must take to participate in an E-marketplace:


Registration might be an easy job of filling up a form. It is much better to take some initial preparations before doing this.

Choose a good login name: your login can be used by the E-marketplace to give you subdomain name, i.e.

Profile: A well-written profile increases company image.

Logo: your logo helps you brand your company.

Add your products or services to E-catalog

Most E-marketplaces furnish with easy to use forms or wizards for sellers to add their products to E-catalog. As the product and service classification used in the E-catalogs often is an industry standard, it is important to spend some times to find the perfect subcategories for your products or services. If you have any doubt contact the customer support of the E-marketplace. Fill up as many given fields are there for a product as you can. The more information buyer gets right away the faster his buying decision would be.

Create offers

Most sophisticated E-marketplaces have various sales platforms apart from the E-catalog inclusion. Make general sales offers, time sensitive offers (hot offers - with offer expiry dates) and auction offers of your products and services. Determine the terms and methods of price, payment and shipment.

Decide how you will handle portions of the supply chain that you have to do offline.

Although, most of the supply chain process can be done online, not all e-marketplace offer a complete end to end solution. You also have to figure out what part of your back office can be integrated to the E-marketplace.

Start doing online business using B2B Portals in Six Steps

I registered with a B2B site but what's next?

This is a question many first time users of B2B marketplaces ask themselves. A few expect that the registration itself will bring them a number of new customers. In some cases this might by true! Especially, if you are a seller of some much coveted items. But for rest of us, things are a little trickier! A large B2B marketplace has a lot of suppliers of similar products, who are vying for the attention of potential customers. To establish your company as a favored one among them is not an easy task! However, a little planning and thorough follow up of some basic guidelines improve your chance of getting noticed by buyers significantly.

Below, I outlined some of the basic steps that you should take once you seriously decide to market your products using B2B marketplaces.

1 Write a nice profile

When a prospective client sees your trade lead ad or your product on the marketplace and feels interested, the first thing he does is - checks your company profile out. That's where the buyer gets his initial information about your company. If you have a virtually blank profile with a very little information on your company, doubtful that the potential client will even bother to make a request for quote. That's why you should spend a little time on writing a nice company profile. Here are some aspects that you should emphasize on while writing your company profile.

Start your profile with something noteworthy about your company. This could be the distinct quality that sets your business apart from your competition.

Describe your present customer base, target market and any new products or projects that you are planning to come up with.

Write a bit about your company history. When the company was incorporated? What is the business form?

If you have something to boast about, do it! If you feel that your sales figures are impressive, why not mention them.

Be brief! The profile should not be more than five paragraphs. You don't want your buyers to get bored!

2 Include your logo on your Storefront page

If you would like to separate your company from many other similar vendors, you have to think seriously about creating a brand for your company. Brand is the distinctive pattern of your business operation. It portrays the nature of your service or product, your uniqueness in comparison to others etc. A nice looking logo is a key to branding your company. Customers will remember your company name better if you have a great logo to go with.

3 Add products to your storefront

It is important to have your main products, products that are your primary sale generators, added to your storefront. Products with nice picture and well descriptions capture buyers attention more than any thing else. After all the reason that the buyers are on your page is to look for the products that they need.

New Great Storefront Services

Whether you are a small enterprise, which sells goods and services locally, or you are a medium to large company with global reach, Rusbiz is planning to introduce great storefront services with complete corporate site to match your every business need. Features include:


Single page storefront

10 products in E-catalog

Sales through e-marketplace

RFQ and Quotation


Internal Messaging Service

Many other features

Available now and it's free!


10 different templates to build multiple-page storefront

100 products in E-catalog

Sales through e-marketplace

RFQ and Quotation


Purchase Orders


Tax Calculation

Shipment tracking

Internal Messaging Service

Merchant Account

Many other features

Coming soon!


10 different templates to build multiple-page storefront

1000 products in E-catalog

Sales through e-marketplace

RFQ and Quotation


Purchase Orders


Tax Calculation

Shipment tracking

Internal Messaging Service

Merchant Account

Many other features

Coming soon!

4 Make nice pictures of your products

Nothing can turn off a prospective buyer than a hazy or blur picture of the product that he intends to buy from you. If your competitor's product with exactly same features has nicer picture, guess who has a better chance to get the business? Spend some money and take professional pictures of your products. Make sure that you followed all the instructions of the Portal before uploading the pictures.

5 Post your products for sale on the marketplace

Product visibility is the name of the game! Don't confine yourself just by adding products to E-catalog and your Storefront. Post products for sale on the E-marketplace.

There are numbers of great advantages of posting products on E-marketplaces:

Frequent browsers of marketplace can see your products

Buyers can compare your products with others on marketplace

Buyers can take an immediate buying decision and make an instant Purchase Order.

6 Post trade leads

For many not-so-savvy users of B2B sites it's a bit complicated to make buys and sales through marketplaces. They prefer to get trade leads from the site and make contacts with buyers or sellers by fax, phone or just emails. Posting trade leads is a great marketing method to tap new territories. Don't be disappointed if you do not get immediate feedbacks. Repeat trade leads at least once in a month. Since normally a portal constantly acquires new members, in order to expose the leads to bigger audience, it is worthwhile to post trade leads frequently.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Web Store - Why Do You Need One?

Internet has opened a new era of business opportunities. Each day, thousands of new consumers are joining the Internet. More and more companies are adopting Internet as their primary sales and distribution channel. According to Forrester Research -The survey of 130 U.S. companies indicates consumers spent $76 billion shopping on-line in 2002. This represents a 48 percent increase over 2001, and projections for 2003 come close to $100 billion, representing 4.5 percent of total retail sales.

As a business you probably understand that in order to stay competitive you must integrate ecommerce to your present business strategy. A little research will show you that there is an extensive array of technology and solutions for enterprise and web store building available in the market. You also perceive that ecommerce sites can cost you from a mere couple of hundred bucks to hundreds of thousand of dollars. How to choose something from so many options that will exactly fit your present need?

Although, this might look like a daunting task, a little preparation will definitely help you taking the right decision in your quest for an appropriate ecommerce solution. To understand your requirement better and create a proper ecommerce strategy, you have to ask yourself a number of questions. Below I jotted down some of the questions that, hopefully, will spur your imagination.

  • What should be the look of my web store?

  • Do I need a database for my product catalog?

  • How should the purchase order generate on my web store?

  • Do I need to handle different pricing system for dealers, wholesalers and end customers?

  • How do I bill my customers?

  • How easy can I make my web store to navigate?

  • How many search options should we have?

  • Can I show my customers a product comparison table?

  • What should be my merchant account gateway system?

  • Finally, how much should I invest to build my web store?

If building an ecommerce site from scratch feels too overwhelming to you and you are a small business, my suggestion is - to build a web store with one of the providers similar to Yahoo, Bigstep, Rusbiz etc.

The web stores that you can build directly on the Internet have all the necessary features like shopping cart, product catalog and payment gateway as any regular ecommerce site. In most of the cases, you construct web store online from templates and easy-to-use editor and you hardly need to know html or other script languages.

You can order your Web Store from Rusbiz right now.

The benefits of using a web store that you can build online are enormous.

Quick to build: If you have all the materials handy, you can build a web store within a day.

Easy in use: You don't have to be a rocket scientist to build a fully functional ecommerce site. Step by step procedures of making pages from templates allow anybody to create a professionally looking web store in no time.

Affordable: Although, some of the providers charge commissions on your sales, as Yahoo does, in most of the cases your expenses are less than US$ 100 a month to have a good web store.

The only disadvantage you have with this kind of web stores is you might not be able to give the customized look and feel to the site as you intend to. Then again, once you start generating enough sales through your web store, if you must, you can always build an ecommerce site by hiring web design companies.

If you are still hesitant in starting online business using web stores I would suggest you to read the following eventual benefits that you may have from ecommerce.

Increase your sales & profits

If you are a brick and mortar company, online commerce will definitely increase your sales and with it profits.

Enhance your company image

Today, even small companies understand the importance of having a website. Planned, sophisticated and professional website creates positive image of the company and help building brand name.

Reduce costs and save money

If required features are available on the website practically all business processes are possible to carry out on the Internet, which allows you to reduce overhead costs, costs incurred due to documentary mistakes, document processing costs, etc.

Improve customer service

Frequently Asked Questions pages, forums, Internal Messaging Service, chat lines, etc. all these features help you effectively running your customer service.

Become a global player

Thanks to the reach of Internet you are no longer confined to a certain geographical boundary any more. You can sell products to any place of the world 24 hours a day.

Add sales channels

By joining e-marketplaces and B2B exchanges you can significantly increase the number of sales channels available to you.

Reduce supply chain cycle

If you automate supply chain processes through Internet, you will be able to shorten the entire cycle from months to days. You will be even able to eliminate certain phases of your supply chain process.

Market products and services

There are numerous ways of getting traffics on your site and popularize your products. In fact, you can get more people in your web store than it is physically possible to accommodate in a bricks-and-mortar shop.

Compete with large companies

On the Internet you may successfully compete with the behemoths of your industry and even curve market shares out of them.

Low start-up costs

Normally, starting a brick and mortar business requires significant cost involvement. On the Internet - opposite is true! To start a business online you hardly need any major investment.

No entry barrier

As you know, many businesses in real world are tightly controlled by certain groups. On the internet there is no such barrier! Anybody can start any business of his choice.

No need to close existing sales channels

By adopting Internet as a sales channel you do not loose anything as your web store only complements existing sales conduit.

If you are new to ecommerce world, I would advise you to go slow! First create a plan with long term and short term objectives. Try implementing your plan gradually. Make sure that you do not spend too much money on your initial ecommerce project. Remember! Over 80 percent of all software projects do not finish in time within the budget; and do not work as planned!


Monday, November 12, 2007

Six Components Of A Good E-Commerce Site

Businesses, which are still sitting on sidelines and not doing business on the Internet, should think seriously about their position! If you are one of them, chances are there, that you have to pay dearly for your indecision as you might lose significant market share to your more proactive competitors in a very short period of time.

Apart from the fact that e-commerce is growing at the rate of more than 25 percent a year, the use of online features can bring efficiency to virtually every aspect of business process, be it supply chain management or customer support management.

But, how can you build an e-commerce business and take advantages of all these great possibilities? After all, you are pretty sure that anything to do with new technology is complicated, time-consuming, and expensive.

Believe it or not, this is just a misconception that most business owners have about the Internet technology. The truth is - in order to run a business online and reap profits, like any new effort, you need to do a little homework, have patience and determination, and get going.

Take the following steps seriously and in no time you will be able to embrace fascinating world of online business.

Take your products online

Getting your product online does not simply mean - having a nice picture and a product narration to go with it. Effective use of the Internet is based on standards. Standards, as you know, are created to facilitate common use of a technology. If you ever imported or exported a product or service, or if you registered your product with some kind of authorities ever; you certainly know that each product falls under certain subcategory according to the classification system that you encountered. Internet is the same thing. Since the emergence of Internet, several classification systems have been developed.

If you think long term and would like to use same catalog with multiple e-marketplaces, you should adopt one of the prevailing classification system in the Internet. The best online catalog classification available from my point of view is UNSPSC. For one thing, many prominent e-marketplaces adopted this particular system, which allows you to post your products on multiple e-procurement systems and e-marketplaces.

How do you do this? I would suggest you to become a member of one of the e-marketplaces, where you can aggregate your products using some kind of simple wizards or forms. E-marketplaces based on Commerce One's the largest B2B e-marketplace enabler, have this facility.

Our own Rusbiz e-catalog system, which is also based on UNSPSC, also allows you to integrate your products using a very simple but sophisticated form. If you do not have time to do it by your own, you can use the service of a B2B exchange. Rusbiz also provides with similar service.

Get an online presence

What should be your next step once you have all your products transformed into e-catalog? Naturally, you need to have an online presence to sell the products. There are number of options how to do this.

Become a member of an e-marketplace

This could be a large geography oriented fairly large horizontal market or a vertical e-marketplace specific to your industry. The membership fees are in most of the cases not so expensive. But many of them charge some percentage on your transactions, usually, from 1 to 3 percent. If you expect big sales volume, you may think this might not be the best choice for you. However, if you get new customers, thanks to your mere presence in an e-marketplace, the percentage that you have to pay on the transaction you should consider as customer acquiring cost. Under any circumstances, it is good to become a member of at least one e-marketplace as you -automatically get exposed to thousands of new prospective customers.

Build a website

There are several ways you can construct an e-commerce site to your need.

You can build a website in house by employing developers or you can hire a web development company to do this for you. The advantage is you can have a website with the look, feel and functionality according to your given specification.

However, both of these methods could be way costly for a small business. Average cost of building an e-commerce website runs starting from US$ 600 plus hosting and maintenance charges for a miniscule site with limited features to several hundred thousand US Dollars for a powerful e-commerce website.

Another option that you have as a small business is to build an e-commerce site from prefabricated templates. While this is affordable and easy, you considerably lose flexibility and customization possibilities in comparison to building a site from scratch.

Build a web store

All these above mentioned cases do not allow you to have the potentials and advantages that come with an e-business website integrated with a B2B exchange. Which means, whether you are a business to consumer company with occasional sales to businesses or you are a pure play B2B company, a Web Store merged into an e-marketplace is what you need.

A web store from a B2B exchange gives you the best of both worlds. You are having a professional e-commerce site which incorporates all the features that an e-marketplace has to offer. And you build a site from simple and easy to edit templates.

For a detailed information about the features that come with a web store and benefits that you can get from them, follow this link: Powerful E-business Store

About The Author

Nowshade Kabir, Ph.D., is the founder, primary developer and present CEO, of, a global business to business e-commerce portal with feature like storefronts, aggregated catalog, e-marketplace, trade leads, internal messaging system supply chain solutions, etc. With a doctorate in Information Technology, Dr. Kabir has worked an advisor to government projects and has over 12 years experience in International Trade. An author of many B2B and business related articles; he publishes a bi-weekly E-zine for online business community. You can subscribe to his newsletter free of charge from

The Clickbank Crash of 2003: Lessons Learned

I had a rude awakening recently. I checked the days worth of sales from one of my sites and there were none. This had never happened before and of course I was anxious to find out what was wrong.

I quickly found out that the credit card processor Clickbank was under a hacker attack. Their service was effectively paralyzed by computers around the world flooding Clickbanks computers with bogus requests for information.

They weren't the only web site being attacked. Similar attacks have happened against Yahoo and CNN in the past.

This is the first one that effected me directly... right in the wallet.

Time For Emergency Action

Nobody knew how long Clickbank would be down.

I wasn't going to wait around to find out! I had to take emergency measures to cope with it.

I was not only losing sales that couldn't be placed, I was also losing money on online advertising. Pay per click accounts were sending people to my site which they couldn't order from.

The first thing I did was pause my pay per click accounts until I got things under control. This saved me from wasting money on useless advertising.

Alternate Payment Choice

I needed another credit card processor to handle my sales and quick! I was lucky that I already had a Paypal account in place.

I quickly created Paypal payment links so that customers could pay for my products. It was a matter of creating the links correctly and changing the webpages to handle the paypal transactions.

I don't normally use Paypal because Clickbank's affiliate program is exceptional. In this case, I did not have much choice and it was easy for me to start accepting money again.

Once Paypal was up and running, I reactivated my pay per click campaigns. I was happily rewarded within the hour with a sale... My first in a day.

Thankfully Clickbank was back on its feet after about 3 days or so. I then switched things back to normal.

Handling My Affiliates

By using Paypal instead of Clickbank, I was denying my affiliates commissions on traffic they had sent me during this incident. I wanted to make it up to them as I didn't think it was fair to them.

I did this by averaging out how much commission they had earned in the 30 days prior to the incident. I divided that total amount by 30 to come up with an average amount per day they had earned. I then gave them 3 days worth of this commission with an explaination of what happened. Ironically, I sent them their commissions through Paypal so they got them instantly.

I received excellent feedback from appreciative affiliates. Some of them stated that my commissions were the only money they made during the time that Clickbank was down.

How You Can Prepare Ahead Of Time

There is no guarantee that Clickbank or any other payment processor won't be attacked by hackers again. It is extremely difficult to defend against.

It would be smart getting a backup plan in place just in case.

Here's a good back up plan:

  • Get a paypal account in place now in case you need it

  • Create your alternate order pages with the Paypal links and keep them ready "just in case"

  • In the event something does happen, keep good communication going with your affiliates. They will appreciate it and will likely reward you with more loyal sales in the future for you

I am sure a lot of lessons were learned during this time. I still love Clickbank, but now I have the experience of having a backup plan I can quickly put into place should anything like this happen again. You may want to prepare ahead of time also.

About The Author

Article by Tim Kerber from the Small Business Web Site. Learn proven secrets to make your web site a profitable success. Tips, tutorials, videos, interviews and more. Click here now --