It is too bad that
more emphasis isn't made for the smaller business. The Internet levels the playing field, allowing smaller businesses to compete against big ones, but in many ways it's more of a challenge to prepare a small
business for electronic commerce.
Most of the larger companies like IBM or HP can offer packaged solutions
for any business. In fact, IBM now has some excellent, cost-effective small business solutions in place at http://www.businesscenter.ibm.com/.
The problem is that some of the "larger" solutions can be very
expensive and might require a significant amount of redesign time as
well as site rearchtecting. Not only that, but some design firms will
either not have the ability to use these solutions or would charge too
much to make it worthwhile.
It's a good idea to talk to web design firms to compare the benefits and weaknesses inherent in a "packaged solution" (such as the kind available at IBM). Some design firms might already have their own solutions they can offer. While these services might not have all of the bells and whistles that
other companies offer, it may still do the job without breaking your
Besides being potentially expensive to set-up and run monthly, e-commerce can also be
impractical. If you are not currently equipped to fufill orders
from various parts of the country as well as the world then you might
want to think twice before offering your visitors a chance to order your
products over the web. A lot of research is needed to iron out distribution problems, state or provincial taxes, and the ever-present threat of duties for cross-border shipping. Nothing will stop visitors from coming to your
site quicker than an unfulfilled order.