Before the Internet, businesses often found it difficult to connect to customers, speed up their service and carefully watch the business climate. The Internet has revolutionized how business is conducted and has helped create a more efficient market. Forrester Forecaster has predicted that 8 percent of retail purchases will be made online by 2014. Forrester Forecaster also reports that retail sales online totaled $155 billion in 2009.
The Internet has allowed businesses to create communities for those that share similar interests in products and businesses. These communities help businesses develop their brand and create a positive image. Businesses are able to customize products or services with ease, which increases the satisfaction of the customers and increases profits. The Internet has enabled business to obtain valuable information about the interests of certain demographics. Consequently, businesses are also able to effectively use targeted advertising by appealing to specific publishers and media that are specifically related to their product or service.
The plethora of information on the Internet enables businesses to learn about trends that may affect them, observe consumer behavior, discover products that could enhance their service or business and increase their knowledge of the industry. Information that used to be reserved for the most influential people in the industry or academics is now easier to find. The information also helps the consumers find products and services that are suitable for them. The amount of reviews and information about businesses on the Internet helps consumers feel more in control and comfortable with making a purchase. The speed of accessing information on the Internet increases the rate of decision-making of both consumers and businesses and saves time that can be used for productive activities.
The Internet bridges the gap between consumers and businesses. The advent of the Internet has made the presence of businesses global. Consumers have access to products that are abroad or across state lines. Communication between consumers and businesses is more open and transparent. Consumers can now use email, chat or forums to connect with other consumers, ask pertinent questions about the service or product, obtain customer support and offer suggestions. The communication between customers and businesses increases customer satisfaction and enables businesses to get connected to the customers. The accessibility enables businesses to further expand their service or product, which increases profit.
In the past, entry into the business world was severely restricted. With the Internet, start-up and advertising costs are significantly lower. Small businesses can start a low-cost website, gain visibility and advertising through connecting with blogs, social networking and affiliate programs and even find venture capital/investors. The Internet also enables people to find talent with ease due to the use of online job boards and career-based social networking. The Internet allows businesses to research products and services in demand to gain dominance over a niche. This increases entry into small niches and reduces the chance of failure.
The Internet has eased the conditions of investing. It’s easier to track the profits of businesses and research factors from the news that may affect a business. The Internet has opened investing to more participants. Consumers can invest in businesses that they may not have discovered without the Internet.
Dianne Heath has been writing professionally since 2009. Her work has been published in "The Hill," a political commentary publication, where she covered the water wars between Georgia, Florida and Alabama, as well as within California. Heath is pursuing a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.