Smart Fit is a small, clothes retail shop that has been in operation for the last nine months. The store sells the latest fashions for both men and women. As of today, the store does not have internet presence, and relies on word of mouth to move its products. The business has become highly competitive in the last few weeks because of a new designer shop opened adjacent to Smart Fit. As a result, Smart Fit requires a new business strategy that would focus on getting clients through the internet.
Internet Business Models
Although there are many (internet) business models, only four of them are discussed in this essay. This includes: affiliate model, infomediary model, merchant model and advertising model. The affiliate model, on the other hand, allows merchants to use other websites to generate sales for them. For example, a computer merchant may reach an agreement with Google to place his/her website strategically such that online users will be tempted to click the website belonging to the computer merchant. Google will then be paid a small fee by the computer merchant for the online users who buy a product after following the link. Although affiliate marketing may not drive mass internet sales, it is one of the options Smart Fit may use to increase sales.
Apart from the affiliate model, Smart Fit could also consider using the infomediary model. Infomediaries are people, or organizations, that analyze consumers and consumer habits. Depending on the terms of agreement, the infomediary may place feed banner ads directing potential customers to a number of websites. Therefore, the infomediary facilitates transaction between the buyer and the seller.
Another business model that is appropriate for Smart Fit is the merchant model. In the merchant model, retailers and wholesalers of goods sell their products and services through a merchant. For example, there are many businesses that sell their products through Amazon.com – a virtual merchant. Although the three models are suitable for Smart Fit, the best would be the advertising model. In simple terms, the advertising model is an extension of the conventional advertising models. When Smart Fit establishes its own websites, its name would appear among the websites that users search for using the search engine. All that Smart Fit requires is to personalize its website such that customers can find the contents they want.
Benefits of a Website
Establishing a website offers numerous advantages to Smart Fit. For example, Smart Fit would be able to increase its clientele base. As a matter of fact, many people turn to the internet for solutions. Whether it is a new car, a new shoe, or a new hair product, people turn to the internet because they know they can find almost anything. As people search for these products, they also learn of new companies that they never knew. Therefore, a website enables a business to meet new clients, while retaining the existing ones.
In addition to getting new clients and having a competitive edge over rivals, Smart Fit also stands to benefit by educating consumers of their business. Every business has a story, and not everyone knows about the story. By having a website, Smart Fit would inform potential clients of the products it offers, and why their products are unique. Again, a website keeps consumers updated. By visiting the website, clients get to know of latest arrivals and discounts. In the long run, Smart Fit benefits from the increased business revenue.
Functions that the Website Will Do for the Company
Apart from increasing sales, a website is a key communication tool. Most websites have contact information (phone numbers and emails), and this facilitates communication between customers and businesses. Other websites have advanced features such as 24-hour message boards to allow for real-time question and answer sessions. Therefore, a website would facilitate communication between Smart Fit and its clients.
On a slightly related matter, Smart Fit would use the website for customer support. In many instances, there are some questions which are asked frequently. By having the FAQs section in the website, Smart Fit would be able to answer many issues that are of concern to the clients. Furthermore, many websites allow customers to submit their queries via a web form. The business then provides an appropriate answer in a timely manner.
Other Uses of Internet
Smart Fit, can use the internet to do research. Every business should know its customers, and the changing consumer trends. The internet is the best source of cheap resource. There are many online surveys that would be useful in improving specific aspects of the business. Clothes business is quite competitive, and customers like outfits that are trendy. Smart Fit can use the internet to establish what consumers want, and use the information to determine the clothes that the business should stock in future.
The internet would also be useful to Smart Fit in finding out how competitors price their products. This would put the company in a better competitive position. Again, Smart Fit can use the internet to source for alternative sources of products. As a retail store, Smart Fit should be able to procure quality products at the right price. By making use of the internet, Smart Fit would be able to source for other quality products that the business does not stock at the moment.
Functional Specifications of the Website
Objective of Smart Fit Website
- The website should allow easy access of public information.
- The website should also minimize the time required for data management and system operation.
- The website should also offer direct links to other information sources.
Overview of the Operating Systems of the Website
The main function of the website is to allow for online users to navigate easily through the products on the website. Auxiliary functions of the website include enabling customers to order through the internet, and indicating whether they are interesting in the products or not. The website would allow also auto-generated email notification to acknowledge receipt of order.
System Platform and Interface
The website would be accessible to any user who logs onto the World Wide Web using any standard browser (preferably, not less than version 4.0). Standard HTML would be used for developing the web pages. The website would be interlinked with other websites containing information about care and maintenance of clothes and shoes. The links are posted below:
Website Design and Layout
Smart Fit would use the internet primarily for research. One of the founders, who also doubles up as the marketing executive, would be in charge of research.
Maintenance of the website will be outsourced to a web designer until the business has its own IT expert.
Technological Specifications for Implementation
Grove (25) recommends the following hardware and software will be required for the implementation of the functional specifications:
- Adobe Dreamweaver CS6
- Adobe Muse
- Microsoft Expression Studio 4
Afuah, Allan and Christopher L. Tucci. Internet Business Models and Strategies. New York,
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England, Elaine and Andy Finney. Managing Multimedia: Technical issues. London :
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Grove, Ralph. Web Based Application Development. Burlington, MA : Jones & Bartlett
Learning, 2009. Print.