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Online Business Expansion - Task 1

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Online Business Expansion - Task 1
Abstract
An online business expansion is the ability to expand or take a business service to a different level. It assists a company to make changes or apply new services where they are needed the most. Also, it provides additional asset relief that did not present prior to the business objectives and proposals. These augmentations allow vendors, producers or manufacturers the advantages to open other stores or provide more and better services to local clients and in other demographic regions. These services can be itemized as new products and brands coming to the market; or, they can be simply new maintenance implementations to the business performance. To administer an online business expansion, first, a person needs to have access to the internet. Second, he or she needs to have an existing website or build a new one that can accommodate new services that will target customers throughout diverse locations or regions. Third, the business will acquire secure applications a facility in order to manage the website (s) and its respective assemblages.

Online business expansion
E-Business Task 1 introduction
Developing an online business expansion may be one of the biggest projects for business owners or shareholders to take part in the making. Looking around the big picture, E-Business can be the leading marketing enterprise around the world. One reason is because of its technology foundation. Nowadays, mostly everyone knows or has access to the internet, which makes it so easy to communicate. And what really creates an online business expansion is communication. It is the way an organization carries out its business information locally and across the globe. That is how to start developing the concept of an online business expansion.
A1. - Viability of product or service
A Family Dollar store near my community is having issues attracting clients to its establishment. The business owner has conducted several researches to come up with a successful idea by making changes to the products and prices that they are currently offered on its website. However, the shareholders have not been able to come up with agendas that would improve the business objectives to move forward. The Family Dollar store is situated in a nice location, facing a busy traffic street. Also, there is a large section of residents and retired folks living in nearby community homes. These entities have given the business the advantages needed to sale more supplies. However, due to uprising competitors such as Wal-Mart, Dollar Tree and Dollar General in the surrounding area, the company is losing profit. Also, with unsatisfactory of overpricing merchandises, outdated information and lack of product presentations; some customers are preferred to go to these competitors which offer cheaper and more variety of products. In consequence, the business must decide to do a total renovation to its website.
One reason the business is making this change is because of deficit and insufficient product detail displays on its website. Based on the current market proposal in the lieu, the store has been merchandising low brand articles such soft-soap body washes, sleepers, home products, etc. at a return more than the rate that its competitors are currently selling. Some customers may perceive these items to be overpricing. In addition, there are products that are displaying on the store’s website, like children clothes that do not show any prices; they are only advertised as clip off coupons. Moreover, when customers click to buy certain products such as phone accessories, and other electronic devices, they are not able see them in their shopping carts. Furthermore, the coupons offered are not printable as stated on the website. These issues may be inconvenient for these clients to visit the website again. As a result, they may decide to take their business to other online stores, and thus may offer cheaper and better services.
The reason for opening a business online is to attract new customers, making the business grow and develop mechanism that will increase sales and profits. An online store has not always been easy for many companies, especially when it involves making money. For individuals who manage their organizations well, they can expect good results and outcomes. Nonetheless, for business men and women who are unsuccessful about how to run their businesses, fall behind the process. They are many businesses like EBay, Amazon and Facebook that start online and suddenly are amazed by their striking performances and achievements that they are making. For these companies, they are building great successes. And the way to control these successes is by tracking how well the business is doing. This is where finance begins to play an important part of the process. These authors explain, “An excellent way to plan for success is to set up ways to track the business finances and to create a secure online purchasing environment for the customers” (Matthews & Holden, 2011). That way, business men and women can build their success rather than surprised by it.
Making an online business is convenient for customers. They do not have to drive or walk to the store to buy their products. With a computer and access to the internet, they can easily make a smooth transaction without waiting in a line. By doing so, an online business can reach out customers locally and overseas. For people across the border, they do not have to by an airplane ticket or book a cruise to travel to United States to buy a pair of Levi’s Jeans. They can just do it right in front of their home computers. Also, the business needs to ensure that the site can communicate internationally by using many languages. By adding this option to the website, people can access it worldwide. That is why it makes sense to take the business online. For example, online businesses such as EBay and Amazon are attracting millions of customers every day. Considering the fact that online stores like EBay or Amazon stock tens of thousands of items, millions of customers, and billions of past sale transaction data, the computational challenge is immense even with super computers and high-speed networks (Ravindran, 2008).
The advantages and challenges of going online have some variances. For many organizations, one major benefit of having an online business is the instantaneous process of interacting with clients. This interaction process can occur instantly by launching ads through Social media sites like Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, etc. In addition, the company can use e-mail to send out newsletters. Another benefit of having an online business is the luxury of working from home. (Sweeney & Sweeney, 2010). For the most part, the business can be managed from home or while travelling on the roads. The owner does not have to be physically at the store all the times. Instead of person to person transaction, online transactions are done virtually, but the process is somewhat the same (Shepherd, 2007). Keeping up with customers’ satisfaction, updating the business website, meeting goals that will surpass competitors can be challenging. Business owner must attract and target people from all ages in order to increase revenue. Owner needs to sell more to current customers by meeting with their desires and needs. In addition, they need to improve the business relationship by bringing new and low cost products into the plateau. Some authors agree and interpret by saying, “Low prices can attract additional buyers to the market.” They continue, “The increase sales can justify production expansion or the adoption of new technologies, both of which can reduce costs” (Lamb, Hair, & McDaniel, 2008). When dealing with buyers online, they know what they want and expect the expectation to be right. The business has to make sure that it meets these criteria.
A2. - Current Online Competitor Assessment
In order to find what is happening in the market, the business needs to do some online researches about online marketing. The organization needs to get its team to launch campaigns and probe people about what they like and gather information about their ideas and so forth. In addition, the team needs to target social network sites or passing flyers on the streets about the business. In such manner, the organization will be able to attract visitors to check out its website. Online customer services have become an integral part of success for companies conducting business on the web (Heerden, 2003). For customers with internet access, they have found that online shopping is the easiest way to do business since they do not have to be present physically at the facility.
There are three neighboring stores that are competing with Family Dollar. The first is Dollar Tree; the second is Dollar General and the third is Wal-Mart. There are positive attributes about Dollar tree, Dollar General and Wal-Mart; all three stores provide a shopping cart, which allows customers to view and purchase directly from their websites. However, Family Dollar currently has one that allows customers to view the items that they are purchased only at the end of a transaction. In addition, Dollar Tree, Dollar General and Wal-Mart offer online delivery services when purchases are made from their websites. Nevertheless, Family Dollar only offers coupons that allow customers to print and use them when buying products directly from its store. The negative surface about Dollar tree and Wal-Mart is, they do not advertise or offer sweepstakes directly from their websites. These sweepstakes allow customers to register online so they can receive third party distributor coupons in their mailboxes. Fortunately, both Family Dollar and Dollar General speculate this entity on their websites.
To understand the aspect of the market, business men and women may need to look at these trends. The first key point, a website needs to be able to mobilize. For example, any websites without a mobile app is losing potential clients. One author explains, “With mobile internet on the rise, you might think small businesses are developing mobile-friendly website. But you’d be wrong.” He continues, “Only 26 percent of small businesses have a mobile website. That’s a growing problem, especially for local business.” (Fell, 2013). The second key point is social marketing and commercial marketing. Michael T. says, “Social marketing is generally understood to involve the planning and implementation of programs designed to bring about social change using concepts from commercial marketing” (Ewing, 2012). In other words, social marketing applies policies from these techniques receiving from social marketing to help a company using its practice and to correspond better and efficiently to its customer needs. As a result, these concepts give the business the advantages that are needed to make progress and increase growth and profit. A blog enables businesses to communicate directly with their customers (West & Ulliman, 2011). In addition, Family Dollar has a blog tab right on its website; however, Dollar Tree, Dollar General and Wal-Mart do not have one. Last year, with 7,475 stores in 45 states across the country, Family dollar store made $9,331.0 million in sales at a net income of $422.2 million (Answers Corporation, 2013). Compare to Dollar Tree, Dollar General and Wal-Mart, Family Dollar is at the bottom of their food chains. Wal-Mart has a total of 4,253 stores. The company has an annual total sale of $405 billion (Business Pundit, 2012). Dollar General takes second position in place. As of 2012, the company has expanded its business to 1,400 stores. It had net sales of 8.2% to $16.02 Billion. In addition, its net income was at 24% to $953 million (Dollar General, 2012). In third position, last year, Dollar Tree has estimated a net sale of $ 7, 394.5 million and a net income of 619.3 million (Dollar Tree, 2012).
Based on social media, Walmart has a mobile app for both Apple and Android devices. In addition, the company bought Kosmix, which is a social media that is mainly focused on ecommerce. With that in place, vice chairman of Wal-Mart, Eduardo Castro stated that social networking and mobile applications are becoming popular and they are part of our clients’ daily lives around the world. He continued, “Social media produce effects in people’s mind about going shopping” (Nicholson, 2011). Unlike Wal-Mart Kosmix social media web browser, Dollar tree has its own Android application. The company intention is to only sell apps which include Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and priced at $1. No more, no less, said one source (Adam, 2012). On November 26, 201, Dollar General announced its mobile apps for both iPhone and Android which include store locations, coupons and sale ads (Dollar General Corporation, 2012). Unfortunately, Family Dollar store, has no real mobile applications, but they do have mobile browsers for on-the-go shoppers which offer weekly ads and coupons. These stores also use Facebook, twitter and YouTube to advertise their products as well.
Many companies around the world use variety of applications or software to operate their business information in order to improve sale performances. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has been one of the applications that is widely used by most companies. The software is known to improve and augment company sales; in addition, it allows business to use strategy in order to satisfy customer needs (Baird, 2008). Walmart uses a different software call (SCM) Supply Chain Management that allows the company to check on its inventory data. The software is administer by a company calls Procter & Gamble (P&G). For example, this author explain, “When P&G products are scanned at a Wal-Mart store, P&G receives information on the sale via satellite and, thus knows when to make more product and the specific Wal-Mart stores to which the product should be shipped” (Adam, 2012). CRM also responds to the same data information. However, Dollar Tree does not use CRM, but the company is in compliant with EDI (DiCentral, 2013). Electronic Data Interchange uses a standard format for the exchange of business files and documents between two trading collaborating partners (supplier and buyer) (Bidgoli, 2004). Dollar General also uses CRM to track customers, archive notes, and follow important dates and events that will help the business aggrandize sale performances and increase efficiencies for its shareholders (Duboise, 2012). Despite of everything, Family Dollar uses SCM to services their client demands (Family Dollar, 2013).
As companies expand, they start taking their businesses elsewhere. Many business organizations become firmly involved making their presence overseas. Due to customer’s high demand for more and cheaper variety of products, these business owners engage on low price items that are manufactured from these foreign countries like China, Thailand, India, Cambodia, Indonesia, Peru, Costa Rica, Brazil, etc. To analyze, all three companies that are competing with Family Dollar are buying their products overseas. For example, these authors explicate, “The quest to maintain low prices has pushed Walmart suppliers overseas, and some experts now estimate that as much as 80 percent of Walmart’s global suppliers are stationed in China.” (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2011). Also, before the Asian financial crisis, many companies slowly reduced the amount of goods purchased from Thailand due to high prices on merchandises. Since the currency value has dropped, Dollar Tree takes the opportunity to buy most of its goods from that country (Stoughton, 1999). In addition, Dollar General increased its growth by purchasing products made overseas as well. The CEO, Rick Dreilling states that the company is slashing cost and expanding its profit margin by buying cheaper goods from China and other places (Farmer, 2010). Internationally speaking, Walmart is the biggest organization among all other competing business stores. The company manages over 6,900 stores and offices around the globe, including 2,900 of its stores located internationally (Plunkett, 2007).
A3. - Online Marketing Suggestion & Strategies
How well an online store succeeds depends on several factors: how shopper-friendly the business makes its catalog and the ordering process, how unusual or hard-to-find its offerings are, and the competitiveness of its prices (Yudkin, 2001). As one can see, Family Dollar has a few things that will need to be permutated from its website in order to attract more clients. First, the store needs to change prices on certain items to maximize profits. For instance, at the Dollar Tree online store, everything cost a dollar; however, at the Family Dollar, even with an online coupon, a customer may have to spend more than a dollar to purchase an item. Second, unlike Dollar Tree and Wal-Mart, Family dollar does not provide a shopping cart that shows current purchased items on its website. The item only shows at the end of the purchase transaction. This may seem inopportune for some clients. Third, depending on the location, some products are displayed, but they are not available in the website inventory when prompting to enter a zip code. Fourth and final, there is no customer service support to provide assistants. Unfortunately, this is inconvenient for many customers to deal with an online website store that does not provide all requirements to make transaction smooth for them.
Since the business is located in a subdivision in Lauderhill, Florida, the demographic is diverse. Based on relationship status, 30% are single; 9.75% are windows and 11.5% are divorced. Based on family who live at homes, 26.3% have children; and 73.7 have none. The household income is varied. Single males have an average income, the median is at $32,515. Single males are average at 14.3% and Females are about 16.0%. The average household size is at 2.5% and the average time to commute is 30 minutes. The majority of the population in Lauderhill is range between 30 to 60 year old. And most of these citizens own their own homes. The age distribution is varied. The average seniors living in the area are accounted for 13.2% of the population. The average people in their 20s is 13.5%. For people in the 30s, their average is 15.1%; and for those in the 40s, they run an average of 14.8% and for 50s and 60s, they are averaging 8.5% and 5.9%. As minor, for people 10 and under, they are accounted for 13.6% and 45.4% (Zillow, 2006).
Based on the population diversity, the company will be targeting people between the ages of 20 to 60 years old. Most 20 years old are either starting college or already enroll in some sort of institutions. They may need school supplies, utensils and other accessories. And for people around 60 years old, they do go online to shop for themselves as well as their relatives. Majority of this classified group spends their time on Facebook chatting with friends and family, reading blogs, playing games, etc. For Family Dollar, it is the best place to start marketing its online business presence. For instance, if Family Dollar posts an advertisement on Facebook about school uniforms or other supplies; and this add is set for buy one get one free. Of course the company has to pay Facebook for the service. Depending on the brands and materials that are advertised, the business will get many hits from these specific age groups. Statistically speaking, this author explains, “Mathematically, the Theory of Planned Behavior can be stated as follows: ranged from 18 to 55 years of age, with an average of 25 years, Fifty-four percent of the participants were male, while 46% were female.” He continues, “Of the 240 participants, 157 (65%) reported that they had shopped online in the past.” (Shin, 2005).
The goal of the company is to seek out these individual needs and provide services that will meet their demands. Many people in their mid-20s, 40 and 50s have some sort of electronic devices such as smart phones, tablets or laptops that can access the internet. Some people use Google search engine to look for street addresses, people, jobs, etc. Also, they are others looking for particular items that they want. In most case scenario, these individuals may stumble on advertised products on Facebook or Google. And suddenly, these particular items become some points of interest. Some researchers explain in their own words, “A growing of people use their mobile devices to purchase and pay for items” (Lehman & Duffrene, 2010, p. 286). As a consequence, website like Facebook and Google do help people find what they are looking for. Kirkpatrick clarifies, “When you search on something in Google, it presents you an ad that is response to the words you type into the search box. And most of the times, it is relevant to you and that generates billions of dollars in the marketing industry.” He adds, “But the ads that you typically click on there are the ones that respond to what you are already know you’re looking for” (Kirkpatrick, 2011, p. 259).
Since the Zillow’s demographic shows a higher percent rate for these individuals, the company can launch a research campaign that will survey these age groups shopping habits and determine what will fulfill their demands. To do that, Family Dollar needs to spend money and hire a team to search the internet media for blogs that pertain to individual’s wants and interests. These concerns can be on particular subjects or products. And once the research is completed, the team can bring that information to the business board. After the board reviewing the details that are needed, they can decide what information is more important to tailor the business website. In addition, other business executives may want to run local ads by passing out flyers and business cards to people on the streets. One or two persons may be curious to find out what this company is about. Moreover, the company can use Yahoo and YouTube to run small ads that can reach people in other states and countries. However, this will require some good resources to manage these strategies.
While many of the stores competing with Family Dollar have their own brands capturing various customers, the organization wants to meet with the management team to create brands that will focus on benefits rather than features. One online strategist states, “While features are important, customers make their decisions on a subconscious level; most times, focusing on the emotional benefits of a product or service” (Okoli-Okpagu, 2013). The company must listen to the customers and centralize on the trends that they are focusing on. To set apart from the competitors, the company needs to focalize on its contestants’ products and compare them to its own. In addition, the business needs to analyze what makes its competitors’ customers like these brands and find a strategy to differentiate them. For instance, if the competitors’ products are good, what strategies can the business use to make its products better than the competitors? The advantages can be set by enhance the product quality, and perhaps lowering the price a little. Any strategy to set off the competitors can work well in an online business marketing.
An online survey always plays an important role in a business. In order to improve shopping experience, the business needs to send out e-mail to its demographic zones to participate on an online survey. The survey must base on business services that are provided by the company and shopper’s satisfactions. Touching base with customers by asking questions, and get their opinions and ideas can help the business find soft points and weaknesses. For example, if the customers are not happy about the business or its products, they will make complaints. Therefore, it is always good to survey these clienteles to get their opinions and feedback. One way this survey can be done is through the business website panel. The company can add a registry page on its website with basic information that includes a name, an address and a phone number. This service will allow its clients and visitors to register for future coupon promotions and advertisements. And base on the result, if the visitors are interested on certain products from the website and like what they see, they may become prospective customers. In addition, if these clients’ questions are answered, they may also bring others, such as friends and family to visit the website as well. By doing this survey in such manner, it becomes a chain reaction for the business to reach out for more people. A research webmaster explains, “It is important to note that the visitors who can find an answer to their query on the websites they are visiting will more likely become customers of those websites” (Gurevych, 2007).
An online business always faces challenges due to uprising competitors as well. As the business making changes to its website, it needs to focus on the problematic that may affect customers. While making these changes for improvement, the business needs to consider that the transition will be a continuous process as new features, brands, products and technology hit the market. Therefore, any strategies that can be used to stay on top of the game are legitimately fair. In order to knowledge customers about the site changes, the business needs to make these approaches. The business acquires to send out snail mail or e-mail to knowledge its clienteles. Nowadays, electronic mail is commonly used mostly by everyone who can access the internet. And every time that a person sends or receives an e-mail, that information is stored somewhere. This process calls, “Whitepages.” And the programs that provide Whitepages information are referred to as LDAP servers (Coombs & De Leon, 2000, p. 50). The business can use LDAP to find people’s e-mail. Grala explicates, “Using the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, a person can look for an e-mail address on the internet straightly inside from his or her e-mail program” (Gralla, 1998, p. 79).
Prior to sending out free subscriptions about new products and sales, the organization needs to seek permissions ahead of time so the customers will know in advance the purposes of these e-mails that they are receiving. And most customers who sign or register for newsletters from the business website will not discard such important information as spam. By having their e-mail addresses, the business can send offers, sales on new merchandises. As a reaction, one author points out, “You can see the results of the e-mail you have just sent out within hours, which means no wasted advertising dollars.” He interprets further, “E-mail marketing is not only effective and instantaneous, but free” (Lee, 2011). Following this process will not only bring buyers to the business website, but it will also increase revenue. When we communicate better, our relationships build. As these authors state, “It’s all about keeping in touch with our customers and following up on the things that are important to them” (Segel & Callan-Bogia, 2007). Many customers like to feel comfortable and want to be treated as first class clienteles. Regardless if these customers are rich or poor, habitual buyers or not, they are deserved to be treated equally with respect. Marsha explains, “To perform quality customer service, you need to respect, trust, and be committed to the people you are dealing with,” (Collier, 2010, p. 20). One thing a business does want to do is dealing with angry customers. These criteria can be done on a positive manner. The company must allow to take their complaints and critics serious, especially when mistakes are made. In addition, the business must strive to respond positively to their answers when questions are being asked. In most case scenario, if they are happy with the services, they will be repeated customers and frequently come more to the online store. Moreover the company must stay connected with clients that are making transactions from its website. From time to time, the company should consider sending out “Thank you notes” to its clients and visitors so that it continues maintaining good business relationships with them. One author translates, “Thank you-notes and e-mails are an effective way to let others know you are thinking about them” (Whitmore, 2005, p. 152)
A4. Social Media Integration
Family Dollar is currently using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as tunnels to propagate its business advertisements. Based on media’s needs and cultures, the company can quantify how to advertise goods that will attract more people. And they are a few customers who post blogs and comments about different products and services that are being offered by Family Dollar. Unfortunately, these messages are not going across these channels at full speed because only a few local customers are blogging and commenting about certain products that they like. Right now, the business needs to reach out for its audiences globally. To speculate, the company requires to calibrate the way that it sends its messages across these channels.
Social Media Integration can be general based on the website criteria. The business can transform this format by sign blogs, forums, links and YouTube to promulgate the business. Blogs work very well on behalf of a business website. This author explicates, “Integrating a business website with blogs open up more opportunities to promote both sites, make it attractive to search engines, and gives the organization more power to publish its blogs” (Lee, 2008). Nowadays, people can find mostly everything on YouTube. It is a very good search engine. When a website promoting its business on YouTube, it is more like spreading the news on the radio or national television. In any cases, there will be people checking out whatever advertisements that a business put out on that channel. Many entrepreneurs have used social media like YouTube, twitter to promulgate their businesses (Knowles & Castillo, 2011).
Facebook is one of the best social media platform to launch a business marketing website. With millions users visiting the site every day, it is the gateway to promote an online business. Messages can go across the globe in matter of seconds, especially when bloggers are talking about the arrival of a new product or brand. These authors translates “People of all ages and demographics have adopted social media technologies.” They continue, “Technology-savvy consumers increasingly are using social media to conduct research on companies, products, and services as well as make purchases and troubleshoot service issues” (Wollan, Smith, & Zhou, 2010). And these entities have becoming aspects of many people who are using social media like Facebook, Myspace, Google, etc. as resource tools to run transactions on a daily basis.
On a professional level, social media connect people together to do business whether it is online or in person. And as the company is progressing, it needs to continue keeping touch with its customers and reach out for prospective clienteles. While keeping touch base with the customers, at the same time, the team needs to get reviews politely from them to see how well the company is doing. This can be done through the business website blogs, e-mails offers, newsletters and customer supports. To integrate these channels, the company can use a third party software such as “Donordrive creates buttons or add new apps to the website for customers or visitors to post comments. DonorDrive is a third party company working on various applications to make changes or modify old technology to work better with social media network integration (Donnodrive, 1997-2013). When the company website creates an app or setup a page that describe goods and services for its targeting audiences, it brings good revenues to the business. These authors describes, “The typical base formula is to create a fan page or group, notify your base to join your “customers” list and begin publishing interesting and relevant updates about your organization’s mission and outcomes” (Williams & Oldberg, 2010, p. 81).
Integration can be performed in this process as well. For instance, Family Dollar website can provide bloggers from its testimonial page. Social media such as YouTube videos, Facebook, Flickr, twitter can be assimilated into a webpage blog. Also, tool like web 2.0 can provide links to other social media for bloggers to use and to interact. One author explains, “There is a symbiosis between blogs and web 2.0.” He clarifies that each gives links and content materials to the other depending upon the needs of the blogger or community member” (Cass, 2012, p. 209). For example, if a blogger adds a post that includes a link, the content can be accessed and viewed by other community within that page. That means, if a blogger originates from community “A”, he or she can share his or her contents with bloggers from community “B.” This is where the symbiosis process takes place. Finally, Family dollar can use widget to integrate other social website by using cut-and-paste code to its website. “A widget is an application that can establish smooth and easy assimilation of another social media website into a blog. This transition allows people to quickly integrate information on a website blog into any social media website to which they belong or encouraging people to join such communities.

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