February 27, 1997 Electronic Commerce

Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, February 27, 1997, noon to 1 PM. These sessions are scheduled for noon-1 PM US Eastern Time (GMT -4) every Thursday.

These sessions are hosted by Richard Seltzer. If you would like to receive email reminders of our chat sessions, simply send a blank email message to or go to and sign up there.

For transcripts other previous sessions and a list of future topics, click here.

For an article on how to make "business chat" work (based on this experience), click here.

Since the chat itself happens at a rapid pace, it's often difficult to note interesting facts in particular URLs as they appear on-line. Here's a place to take a more leisurely look. I've rearranged some of the pieces to try to capture the various threads of discussion (which sometimes get lost in the rush of live chat).

Please send email with your follow-on questions and comments, and suggions for topics we should focus on in future sessions. So long as the volume of email responses is manageable, I'll post the most pertinent ones here for all to see.

Threads (reconstructed after the fact):


Richard Seltzer 11:45am ( scheduled chat is on Business on the WWW.If you are here for that discussion,please identify yourself.

We're here to share experiences about doing business on the Internet particularly the World Wide Web. What works? What doesn't work? Why? What are the trends that matter? How can you/should you adapt to the Internet culture and environment?

I work for the Internet Business Group at Digital Equipment in Marlboro, MA. In that capacity, I end up talking to people from large companies about how they can use the Web for business.I also have my own personal Web page which is content rich and no frills which I do for practically nothing and draws a fair amount of traffic and attention.

In a chat session like this things can get pretty frantic. It's sometimes difficult to follow the threads of conversation. And there's no time to write down interesting URLs and facts. So each week, I take a copy of the raw transcript and edit it to make the threads clearer and post it at my own little Web site so anyone could takea look. You can see transcripts of previous sessions at

Nathan Cornillon11:49am (, my name is Nathan Cornillon. I'm the product architect for EveNTs Software Products

Jim Lindenthal( 11:49am ( Richard. Hello All, My name is Jim Lindenthal. I am a Senior Consultant with Keane, Inc. Greater Boston Branch

Richard Seltzer 11:51am (, Nathan and Jim glad we're getting started early.

Richard Seltzer 11:52am (, we plan to focus on Electronic Commerce. How do youspell success in today's marketplace? Where should companies focus theirefforts to get the best return for their Internet investments?We'd like to hear of your experiences both in business-to-business andbusiness-to-consumer activities. This is a fast-changing arena. Whatwouldn't work a year ago, might work now, and might be very successful ayear from now. We want to check our perception of where the marketplaceis, where it's headed, and how fast.

Richard Seltzer 11:57am ( By the way, please check last week's transcript if you haven't had a chance yet. Just this morning I added two important followup messages. One lengthy one from Ed Jaros summarizes lots of recentInternet stats of interest to those of us trying to keep an eye on electroniccommerce (with hyperlinks to the original info). Another from Tracy Marks lists some interesting URLs having to do with distance education.

Richard Seltzer 12:00pm ( -- our main focus today will be on electronic commerce. If you sell goods over the Internet either business to business or businessto consumer, please speak up, identify yourself and let us know about your experience.

Scott Rehling ( 12:00pm ( guys,I'm Scott Rehling, Sales Manager from Outreach Communications in Austin, TX

Richard Seltzer 12:01pm ( -- we're interested in hearing about successes and also problems/failures.If something didn't work, we'd like to know about it and try to figure out why. I'd like to learn about instances wheresuccess and failure depended on technology choices, and also ones where they depended on creative business models.

Andy 12:01pm ( day, I'm Andy Shirshac from Fidelity Investments.

Elcom Systems Team12:03pm ( are in the business of Full Circle Electronic Commerce. We provide windows and java based three tier client server solutions for business to business.

Richard Seltzer 12:03pm (, Scott.

Marcus 12:03pm ( I'm Marcus Pierce, webmaster at the Economist Group.

Sudha( 12:04pm ( Richard, How are you doing? Thanks for your messages. I had no problem connecting today.

Mari-Ann 12:07pm ( design web pages and am looking for additional information on how to make their businesses successful on the Internet. Also, several clients are interested in chat rooms and so I am learning about that myself.

Customer Service Over the Internet

Richard Seltzer 11:54am ( I'm also very interested in hearing about your offering. I saw a press release about a packaged solution for on-line customer service, including chat/forum capability. Can you provide a thumbnail sketch of that? (I've been preaching for a long time that that kindof application makes sense. I'd love tosee PC vendors head that way so I don't get stuck on hold forever with their 800 numbers.)

Nathan Cornillon ( 11:56am ( Richard. Our product is called CENTS (Customer EveNTs System). It includes a server, CSR, Administration, and customer piece.

Nathan Cornillon ( 11:58am ( the system does is allow a web-site to give users the ability to request a chat with a CSR. For the CSR user communication we use Microsoft NetMeeting.

Richard Seltzer 11:58am ( What is "CSR"? And am I correct in myconclusion that you include chat and forum in the package? Do you have any customer sites you could point us to to see it in action?

Nathan Cornillon ( 12:01pm ( CSR is a Customer Service Representative. (Sorry about that.) The customer sites we have right now are still in the development phase, and should be rolling out within the next month or so. (As I understand it. The web-development group is a seperate group.)Our solution doesn't provide a forum. It is more or an "800" number to customer service, help desk, sales, billing, and such.

Richard Seltzer 12:03pm ( any plans to add chat/forum? Seems like a natural as a supplement and eventually a replacement for 800 numbers. Also, please send me email once you dohave customer sites to point to, and I'll add a note as followup in one of our transcripts.

Nathan Cornillon ( 12:04pm ( use Call to refer to the web-customer's request to talk to someone on-line. The Customer Service Reps (CSR) are placed in call groups. The calls are routed to the next available CSR who is able to handle the topic the customer is calling about.

Jim Lindenthal( 12:05pm (, How do you see your system working with inthe Sales Force or Marketing groups.

Nathan Cornillon ( 12:07pm (, we are not looking to add support for Forums. We also think it is a great idea, and Microsoft's Active Conferencing offers it. However, we don't feel it will replace the "800" type service. Instead we feel it will simply be an extra service.

Sudha( 12:09pm (, I missed the initial messages. Can you please explain what is the CSR. Is it a Web interface to route to current 800 numbers? Or does it provide asynchronous Customer support without live operators?

Nathan Cornillon ( 12:09pm ( I come from Sales Kit Software, an SFA provider. We see our solution as another piece to the Total Customer Management solution. More business is moving on-line, but that doesn't diminish the desire for personal contact. Most people seem to still want the ability to easily get to a person who can help them with what they are doing now.

Richard Seltzer 12:11pm (, Forums for customer support mean that you only have to answer a question once then the info is available by search for all to get. Also, users as well as your experts can provide helpful tips (a la users group).Also, the customer doesn't have to waiton hold to get an answer and the company doesn't get stuck with monstrous 800 number bills for all those people lefton hold. I'd give it serious consideration. NB On-line customer service will become ever more important as on-line sales grow.

Nathan Cornillon ( 12:11pm ( the web-customer is routed to talk to the CSR (Customer Service Rep) on-line (using Microsoft NetMeeting), the call is automatically tracked. The customer and call information is stored in any ODBC SQL database (although we are designed to work with Microsoft SQL Server). Integration into other customer support systems and sales force automation (SFA) systems is fairly easy since we have an open architecture.

Richard Seltzer 12:29pm ( You also might want to look into the value of making chat available to customer service reps who are on thephone. They can use chat in the background to pass questions/answers/info to one anotherquickly and quietly. (Digital's customer support folks in Colorado have done that for years.)

Nathan Cornillon ( 12:32pm (, that sounds like an excellent idea. Our system does allow the original Customer Service Rep (CSR) to include another CSR.

Sales Force Automation

Jim Lindenthal( 12:11pm (, I agree with you on the personal contact. The question is how can we effectively use the internet/ feed information to our sales force?

Nathan Cornillon ( 12:16pm (, when I left the Sales Force Automation arena (about 8 months ago) a number of SFA vendors were looking at solutions allowing the Sales Force machines to use the net for sychronization. CENTS can feed the call reports into such a system.Richard - Microsoft Active Conferencing already seems to provide a lot of the Forum functions. The on-line FAQ is a great idea. Certainly our system could feed a database FAQ. We track issue and resolution (aside from other fields). Adding a web-page which references the database to build the FAQ is a great idea. Also, our systems does NOT transfer the call to the voice lines, it uses NetMeeting to do voice and video over the net. So clients don't have any charges for customers being on-hold (aside from customer frustration)

Elcom Systems Team 12:14pm ( feed information into your sales force you need to look at technologies which can distribute the necessary information to your sales force. Intranet/Internet is one solution however, dedicated windows client software on a CD could be a great solution. Coupled with real time transaction processing you would have a very powerful sales automation tool.

Nathan Cornillon ( 12:18pm ( - SalesKit, Arrum, and Siebel are some SFA solutions you might want to look into for Internet Sychronization. 12:26pm -- (, I been doing sales force automation for the last 4 years. The product that I am most familiar with is Saratoga Systems SPS. I am in the process of trying to figure out the best way to integrate this new technology. What additional information can I give to the sales force that they don't currently have? Again, the bottom line is what will help them *sell*.into our current sales force.


Mari-Ann 12:07pm ( design web pages and am looking for additional information on how to make their businesses successful on the Internet. Also, several clients are interested in chat rooms and so I am learning about that myself.

Scott Rehling ( 12:14pm ( Ann, you might want to check out for a chat solution

Selling Power Tools on the Web

Todd Mogren 12:04pm (, I run a site selling power tools for a small retail store in Connecticut.Since last March we have processed over 1000 orders over the net.

Richard Seltzer 12:07pm (, Power tools for a retail store in Connecticut?Amazing. That's the kind of business that I thought the Internet wasn't yet ready for.Please tell us more. What do you do to attract users to your site? Have you done anything to create a community environment? Or are you driving business with extremely low prices on-line? Or do you have an extremely broad range of product choices on-line (a la with books)? Why do you think the public is buying?

Todd Mogren 12:15pm ( offer same day delivery and hopefully very low prices.

Richard Seltzer 12:18pm ( "Same day delivery" does that mean that you are catering to a local audience?What's the geographic reach of that delivery service? (Sounds a bit like Peapod with groceries). Do you chargeextra for delivery? And are your customers mostly individuals or companies?

Todd Mogren ( 12:23pm ( meant same day shipping. We ship the sameday the order is placed. To date most of our customers have been individuals.

Richard Seltzer 12:08pm ( Also, that 1000 orders what does that represent in terms of revenue? and how does that compare with the store's traditional sales level?

Todd Mogren 12:14pm ( is now running at $30,000 per month.

Marcus 12:09pm (, does your system handle order tracking, guaranteed delivery times, etc.? If so, how is it functioning for you?


Richard Seltzer 12:05pm (, Elcom. What is "Full Circle Electronic Commerce"? Do you do just business-to-business stuff or are you into consumer shopping as well? I heard something about a ShopLink, which I believeis yours, and which competes with Peapod for grocery shopping. How is that coming along? Is the market ready?

Elcom Systems Team 12:09pm ( Circle Electronic Commerce is the complete end to end technology solution which Elcom Systems can provide to any company looking to do electronic commerce over the internet or on private networks. We do this through our product called PECOS - Personal Electronic Catalog and Ordering System. Most of our customers are Business to Business except for Shoplink which is a home consumable - home delivery service. They were just featured in a recent issue of Business Week. So our technology has been implemented in several different environments including, computer resellers, ventilation, oil, home shopping, office supply industries.

Elcom Systems Team 12:10pm ( market is ready today for the PECOS technology. We are approaching over 1 Billion dollars in revenue transacted through our systems. Our web site is if you would like more information.

Anonymous 12:14pm (, Is that $1 billion over the internet?

Elcom Systems Team 12:19pm ( of the revenue mentioned earlier, Billion+, is not all over the Internet. It is split up between the Windows Dedicated Multimedia Client and the JAVA - Browser based version of PECOS. As far as how we compare to others we are the only company out there today which can provide real time transaction procesing into a legacy system and at the same time have a multimedia catalog on the front end.

Richard Seltzer 12:20pm ( -- Roughly how much of that $1 billion you referenced happens by direct dial-in and how much over the Internet? And is that ratio changing significantly?

Elcom Systems Team 12:22pm ( are split up between the two as the Internet user base increases so does the usage.

Richard Seltzer 12:12pm ( Are any of your customer sites visible to the public? URLs? Any stats and the volume of sales that some of your customers are realizing with this kind of solution?

Elcom Systems Team 12:17pm ( could look at one of our customers which is Catalink Direct! a reseller of computer products at There are literally thousands of transactions going through our PECOS Transaction Server System via the modem and the Internet every single day. In fact Catalink has grown from zero revenue to close to 700 million in a little over 3 years.

Sudha( 12:15pm (, I took a quick look at your site. You seem to have lots to offer. How do you compare your to other catalog products like Icat?

Definition of "Electronic Commerce"

Ira Pasternack 12:10pm ( All,I am Ira Pasternack, Managing Partner of Clearly Internet, and Internet Training and Consulting Company.I have recently developed an extensive training program on developing an Electronic Commerce strategy, and I an interested in hearing your opinions about the definition of "electronic commerce".

Richard Seltzer 12:15pm (, For purposes of this discussion, we' re defining "electronic commerce" very broadly.We mean business use of the Internet toproduce sales whether business to business sales or business-to-consumer. I'd include and would like to see examples of on-line inventory status info and gift registry types of applications.Not just the on-line transaction.But more than just providing marketing information.

Ira Pasternack ( 12:27pm (, You say you are using a broad definition of EC. I also use a broad definition. I define EC as "any business activity that is conducted electronically".Specifically, this includes the exchange or delivery of information, not just activities related to marketing and sales. How do people feel about this definition? Is it similar to how you use the term?

The Economist

Marcus 12:03pm ( I'm Marcus Pierce, webmaster at the Economist Group.

Sudha( 12:10pm (, The Economist is one of my favorite sites. How do you see the impact of Electronic commerce for a publisher?

Marcus 12:13pm ( will change the way we do business entirely. BTW, we have a better site at which goes live this Saturday.

Richard Seltzer 12:13pm ( Is that The Economist? Are you connected from London?

Marcus 12:14pm ( of our electronic publishing activity is done out of New York by the division called the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Sudha( 12:18pm (, I'll check on Saturday. Is the Economist Intelligence Unit a central publishing group? How do you manage currency from there?

Marcus 12:19pm (, we publish worldwide. How we handle currency is EXTREMELY complex and is has been one of the most difficult problems from the outset.

Sudha( 12:22pm (, That sounds very interesting. I think Economist is a true example of the web shrinking the globe. Are there any lessons you've learnt that you can share with us?

Marcus 12:25pm (, that technology is not the answer. Business acumen in the areas of marketing, customer service, brand identity, and quality of product are still what will determine the success of a new venture.

Richard Seltzer 12:24pm ( What's the difficulty with currency? Don't credit cards make that relatively easy?

Sudha( 12:26pm ( & Marcus: I thought Marcus reference to currency was about "maintaining content current"

Marcus 12:28pm ( mentioned currency I was referring to the complexity of accepting orders from foreign markets. Taxes, exchange rates, etc.

Richard Seltzer 12:39pm ( When you speak of the challenges with regard to currency, taxes, etc. areyou talking about sales of subscriptions/information, or in a broaders sense? (I think that a new technology called Millicent, which allows transactions offractions of a penny, and which is inthe labs at Digital, could provide aninteresting alternative to subscriptionsfor the sale of information. You could charge, for instance, a tenth of a penny to see a page, which is relatively painless and simple.)

Marcus 12:43pm ('m talking about sales of subscriptions to high-end (expensive) publications to places like Mongolia and Nigeria. We have a very peculiar business model. Our minimum subscription rate is $7,500.

InterWorld and MicroWAREHOUSE

InterWorld 12:17pm ( is an electronic commerce software and services company. One of our Clients is MicroWAREHOUSE. Check out This is a good model for ecommerce.

InterWorld 12:19pm ( site is

Richard Seltzer 12:21pm ( Please tell me a bit about MicroWAREHOUSE. What do they sell? In what volume? and what do they do that's unique to attract and hold audience?

Sudha( 12:20pm (, What EC software and service do you provide?

InterWorld 12:26pm ( also does realtime links into legacy systems via APIs. InterWorld is a leading developer of object-oriented software solution designed to support high-performance, mission critical applications in a modular architecture. Product include a Catalog, Chat, Note, Auction, as well as an integrated development environment.

Elcom Systems Team 12:29pm ( What platforms do you support? What legacy systems have you integrated into? What skill set is required to do an api? Do you provide those services? What do they cost? What is the average implementation time?

InterWorld 12:31pm ( sells PC products online. They are selling 20,000 product and managing them via 7-10 templates. They currently have 150,000 registered users and get about 350,000 hits a day Within the site the software dynamically generates the page to meet the user profile. Upsell and cross-sell suggestions are supported. And.. merchants can update their content remotely.

Richard Seltzer 12:35pm ( -- How do 150,000 registered users and 350,000 hits per day translate into revenue? Any sales stats? Many sites which sell, actually do a better job of marketing their goods, leading to increased sales in traditional stores. On-line sales aren't the only criterion of success for an electronic commerce operation. But it's good to get a sense of what volumes of on-line sales different kinds of companies are experiencing. What I'm hearing today seems far more advanced than what I had been reading in the press and experiencing first-hand.

InterWorld 12:40pm ( MicroWAREHOUSE, we are not allowed to discuss their sales revenue. Currently they are generating millions of dollars in revenue per month. The online catalog revenue paid for the system in 6 months.

Tom Dadakis 12:43pm ( -- What is the url for microwarehouse?

InterWorld 12:17pm ( MicroWAREHOUSE

Outreach Communications

Scott Rehling ( 12:19pm ( all,Outreach Communications offers a turnkey electronic commerce solution that interfaces with the existing credit card infrastructure (no alternative currency "wallet software" necessary). We also just release a product called StoreManager, which is a point and click Windows 95 GUI interface for creating and uploading storefronts. Our products are designed for everyone from someone with zero technical ability who is interested in selling product on line to companies like Power Computing, the Mac clone maker who does $250,000 worth of business a day on line using our product.

"Alternative Currencies" -- CyberCents

Scott Rehling ( 12:22pm ( anyone have any current figures in reference to how much of the business done on line is done via credit card vs. alternative currencies? I've heard figures like 88% is credit card.

Todd Mogren ( 12:24pm (, all of our customers have used credit cards except international customers who sometimes prefer wire transfer.

Richard Seltzer 12:26pm ( by "alternative currencies"do you mean things like CyberCash, etc.? I believe that they all eventually get translated to credit card transactions.

Scott Rehling ( 12:29pm (, by "alternative currencies" I do mean things like Cybercash. You are correct, these transactions eventually end up as credit card transactions. With our products, it is not necessary to install wallet software or to set up a new merchant services account that interfaces with CyberCash. Our product points transactions towards ANY merchant services account, including the one you already have if you're currently have one.

Sudha( 12:34pm ( Doesn't "Cybercents" belong to Outreach? Is it similar to Digicash?

Scott Rehling ( 12:41pm (, Yes, CyberCents is an Outreach Product. Digicash is quite different from CyberCents in that it requires a special bank account, a special credit card account, wallet software, et, etc. which is a major sales impediment. CyberCents, as do our all of our products, interfaces with existing bank accounts, merchant services accounts and does not require and special software on the client end.

Scott Rehling ( 12:42pm (, CyberCents is a micro payment system (already on the market) which handles payments as small as a fraction of a penny. 12:42pm (, Do you have a web site that we can find additonal information about CyberCents?

Scott Rehling ( 12:43pm ('s website is at for more information on MallManager, StoreManager, SaleManager and CyberCents.

Elcom Systems Team 12:43pm ( big is Cybercash?

Richard Seltzer 12:47pm ( Interesting. We discussed alternative money schemes in this chatsession a few months ago. Can you point me to a URL where I can learn more about CyberCents and how it works? Thanks.

Scott Rehling ( 12:48pm ( info:

Scott Rehling ( 12:53pm ( reference to "alternative currencies" Our findings have been that it creates an impediment to the sales process because it is an extra step and a hassle for the consumer to deal with. It harms the potential "impulse buy". Also, I've seen figures that indicate that over 80% of the business done on line is currently done with a credit card. That makes sense, doesn't it? Most people who buy on line have purchased via phone with a credit card. When the ability exists to simply type in a credit card number to make a purchase, it feels a lot like ordering over the phone.

Rob Davidson 12:55pm ( sounds alot like a Merchant-run CyberCash environment..fair comparison??

Scott Rehling ( 12:57pm (, sort of. CyberCents is actually a completely automated system. The software itself does reside on the merchant's web server. All the secure transactions and the real time CC authorization is done from our secure server. Point being there is very little administration necessary on the merchant end.

Employment Opportunities

Elcom Systems Team 12:26pm ( the way, we are growing very fast and expect to double in size this year. Elcom is looking for some good people to join the team. If you would like to seek employment contact HR at Elcom Systems.

Sudha( 12:30pm ( about your jobs. Web-Net User group shares job leads in their mailing list of 500 members. You can send jobs to to schedule an interview during their monthly meeting at Cambridge.

Elcom Systems Team 12:30pm ( - thanks for the tip

How to Market a Web Business?

Dana 12:32pm ( have you done to market your web business?

Dana 12:38pm (, have you done much marketing of your site? If so, has it been a considerable reason for the success of your web business?

Sudha( 12:38pm ( You have touched my favorite topic in EC and business on the web. What's the best way to market your site? I am fascinated by the fact that the web offers a new networking model for marketing sites. Many existing businesses try to treat the web as another ad medium; it's more than that. Just like the computer industry moved from a vertical model where one company owned the hardware, OS, software and Applications, the web is making a network model of alliances and partnerships.I would like to hear other's view on this?

What Makes Sense to Sell On-Line Today

Richard Seltzer 12:23pm ( -- Interesting. Do you have any successful customers who aren't in the computer field? It seems that selling computers and software over the Internet is natural and is really beginning totake off. What about other kinds of merchandise?

Scott Rehling ( 12:27pm (, it is completely true that hardware and software sales comprised a large percentage of the business done on line. And it is definitely taking off. Obviously, people buying on line are typically technically saavy folks who are using and buying technology related wares. We actually have numerous customers in other industries. I believe travel related offerings are the next largest sellers on line. We have customers selling everything from computers to Tupperware to electronic newletters on line.

Richard Seltzer 12:31pm ( I realize that there are companies trying to sell all kinds of goods over the Internet. What's more difficult to determine is what people are actually buying over the Internet.I'm trying to get a handle on what makes good business sense today. Do you haveany stats, for instance, on sales of Tupperware?

Scott Rehling ( 12:37pm (, I've seen so many different figures- you're right, it's difficult to get a handle on reality. Any product that requires little customer service to sell makes good sense to sell on line. Of course, there are so many other factors such as the market you are targeting and whether or not that market is warm to the idea of "buying online". Right now the companies achieving signifigant success on line are predominantly technology related, travel related, game oriented, and adult. There are exceptions to this, which are typically a result of a creative and aggressive marketing campaign to promote the site.

Richard Seltzer 12:43pm ( -- As of a few months ago, my rough feel was that aside from computer-relatedproducts and products geared at a college audience, the most likely to succeed as Internet sales were high-ticket items like expensive homes and cars, where there area limited number of people in the worldwho might want to buy and all of those folks are likely to be on line, and where a single sale can be significant. I didn'tthink that ordinary consumer goods, that could be bought in stores easily would be likely to do well in today's Internet environment. Am I wrong? Please correctme. We need to keep recalibrating our assumptions.

Scott Rehling ( 12:47pm ( feedback so far in reference to the attempt to sell high ticket items on line is not positive. Those types of purchases require a significant amount of buyer-seller interaction. However, websites do provide a good avenue for front end sales information and support. In terms of consumer items that can be bought in stores, I think folks who buy on line are interested in convenience and time saving issues. There is one thing everyone in this world has in common- we all have 24 hrs in a day. Those who succeed are typically those who can borrow some of those 24 hrs from someone else.

Mari-Ann 12:51pm ( )Is there a record of what types or products sell best on the Internet? What products do not?

InterWorld 12:54pm ( Our clients are selling both hard goods as well a digital assets such as software, reports. They can also sell video and movies. FYI We are approved for the sale of Microsoft brand products over the internet. 12:53pm (, I read an article in Investor's Business Daily about Jeff Bezos president of He look at a numberof markets and found that books sell best. I think he was right. 12:55pm ( addition, the Internet allows to stockover 1.1 million titles in contrast to a large bookstore that stocks 170,000 titles.

Dana 12:49pm ( can be sold online with the right marketing campaign. It's just a matter of changing the customer's perception. Just like the Home Shopping Network had to do.

Richard Seltzer 12:52pm ( How is the Home Shopping Network doing? A couple years ago, I referred tothem often as a booming success (sold after4-1/2 months for $4-1/2 million). ButI haven't heard anything about them fora long time. Does anyone have a sense of whether they continue to be successful,and if not why not, and if successful what their annual revenues are running?

Nancy 12:54pm ( It seems to me that medium priced products aimed at higher income folks are where the online sales are busiest. For example, the successful book sales. And the much celebrated Virtual Vineyards business. Online flower sales. Seems to me there is a good online market for gift and entertainment type products.

Dana12:55pm ( Ann, Forrester Research recently reported that revenue from online retailing will rise to $7 billion. 75% of that will be spent on goods such as apparel, gifts, food, entertainment products and computer equipment.

Sudha( 12:56pm ( and Jim: is surely selling books on the net. But, I think software and CDs are things that sell best on the web. Check They were in Inc Magazine last year for the best example of a company that has made money over the net.

Sudha( 12:57pm ( Amazon can stock even more because their real advantage is that they don't keep real inventory. 12:59pm (, Amazing. No need for warehouse storage expenses. Do they ship the books directly from the publisher?

Warren Agin - Law Solutions 1:02pm ( everyone later. By the way, I set up an Amazon associates bookstore to sell bankruptcy law related books and sold about $80 worth the first three weeks. That generated about $7 is revenue for me. Makes it more of a public service than anything else.

Richard Seltzer 1:00pm ( -- for me the puzzle still remains what is the role of on-line communities in fostering on-line commerce? What business models can work for the little guys? e.g., in a world where an can sell every book in the world, where is the niche for the bookstore with an on-linepresence? And the same applies inother fields as well will the Internet be successful for just one or two companies per field (like book sales)? Or can communities provide a business model that lets many thrive?

Elcom Systems Team 1:01pm ( questions, Richard, but is there anyone who can really answer them? Is it too early in the game?


Sudha( 12:54pm ( Where are you located physically?Web-Net is a business networking user group. Maybe you can visit us in one of our future meetings.

Scott Rehling ( 12:55pm (, we are in Silicon Hills (Austin, TX) Where are you?

Pete 12:55pm (, when is the next meeting?

Sudha( 12:58pm ( We are in Boston. Maybe we can schedule something when you visit Boston for Internet World or some other Expo.


Dana 12:47pm (, will be possible to get a transcript of this discussion?

Richard Seltzer 12:50pm ( Amen. Yes, I post edited transcripts of all these sessions.That's essential since it simply gets too hectic to follow all the lines ofconversation in real-time.Check I have to wait until provides me with the raw transcript. But you can expect that the edited version willbe available by Monday night.Also at that same URL you can (courtesyof Coo!a) sign up to receive the transcriptsby email.

Nathan Cornillon ( 12:49pm ( everyone, I've enjoyed the chat. However, I need to run for a lunch meeting. See you all next week.

Richard Seltzer 12:55pm ( - the hour is fast disappearing. Please, before you sign off, be sure to post your email addresses and URLs for followup later.

Richard Seltzer 12:57pm ( Please send your followup commentsquestions, answers to me at and I'll include them with the transcript. It feels likewe have several related threads that arestill going strong. I'd like to see email on those. And I'd also like tocontinue this discussion next week.I hope you all can join us them same time, same spot and please spread the word to others with interest in and knowledge/experience about electronic commerce.

Mari-Ann 12:57pm ( everyone for your information.

Elcom Systems Team 12:58pm ( We'll try to see you next week.

Nancy 12:58pm ( is:

Richard Seltzer 12:58pm ( please check last week's transcript for a lengthy and very informativefollowup message from Ed Jaros with good stats related to electronic commerce (and links to the sources of the info).

Ed Jaros 12:59pm ( all. Look forward to reading the transcripts. Sorry didn't participate this week.

InterWorld 12:58pm ( everyone!

Scott Rehling ( 12:59pm (, will you be at Internet World in L.A. next month?

Sudha( 1:01pm (, No sorry, I am not going to be in Spring Internet World.

Scott Rehling ( 1:01pm (,We'll be at the Boston event as well. Keep in touch.

Scott Rehling ( 1:03pm ( Communications will be in booth #4178 at Spring Internet World.

Richard Seltzer 1:01pm ( -- by the way, I'll be at InternetWorld March 12-14 in Los Angeles. If any of you are out there, please stop by theDigital booth and say hello.

Marcus and Dana 12:59pm ( email: Dana email:

Sudha( 12:59pm ( Richard. See you all next week. 1:00pm (, Once again an excellent session. See you all next week.

Richard Seltzer 1:00pm ( thanks very much. Hope to "see" you next week. Send email to


Approaches to Net Marketing

From: Tracy Marks <> Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 16:40:37 -0500

I sent this to I-Sales a few months ago, as I was attempting to understand different Internet business models in an attempt to clarify a model for myself. I'm submitting it to you in case you want to post it at the end of a transcript...hopefully, it might catalyze some worthwhile discussion. I'm still trying to understand the different possible models, and which work best for which purposes...


I'd like here to summarize my rudimentary understanding of different approaches to Net marketing and sales, and receive some input from others to further elucidate these and perhaps add others. (It would also be interesting to speculate on which approaches are most successful for which kinds of businesses and audiences...)



Tracy Marks, M.A.

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