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Launching a Business on the Internet sample essay

Electronic business is no longer an alternative; it is becoming an imperative. The most important first step in launching an e-business is planning, understanding the target customer, marketing the business, and choosing the right products and services to offer. The next step is deciding on the software and hardware to build the Web site and the mechanics that will handle payments, fulfillments, etc. Choosing an ISP is also important, because speed, accountability, and availability of traffic statistics are critical for ensuring Web site performance.

1. Is there a difference between vision and mission? Elaborate. How do they relate to starting an online business? Be specific.

Vision is what your business is trying to achieve and how the goals will be met. It also involves how the Web site will help fulfill these goals and how the company will measure success. In contrast, mission follows vision, in that it represents the company wide statement of what the company is all about, its commitments, responsibilities, and obligations within the framework of the vision of its leaders.

A visionary usually starts an online business by explaining how he foresees the product or the service to become years down the road. Once accepted, the newly formed company states its mission with a focus on online business via technology, etc.

2. Identify the key steps of the Internet business life cycle. What step is the most critical? Why?

a. Business planning b. Technology infrastructure c. Design d. Marketing e. Fulfillment f. Maintenance/enhancement

No specific step is necessarily more critical than the others. Like the value chain concept, where each chain has to carry its weight to assure total strength, in the Internet business life cycle, each phase is there for a reason and must do its homework in line with the guidelines and the mission of the firm.

3. When you hear someone talking about strategic planning, what is the person focusing on? In terms of e-commerce, what questions does an online merchant consider when strategizing? Explain.

Strategizing means evaluating a company’s position and its competition, setting a course for the years ahead, and figuring out how to achieve the goals. This process is especially important in e-commerce. In e-commerce, any strategic plans are likely to be good for only short periods of time.

The questions an online merchant considers when strategizing are: a. Who will buy the product? b. How familiar the business is with the Internet? c. Is the business planning to be a short-termer or a long-termer? d. Who are the competitors? e. How good will the product(s) look? f. How will the business present the product offers? g. How will one manage and process transactions? h. How will the product be shipped? i. How will the business handle unexpected change? j. How will one get and use feedback? See text, pp. 68-69

4. The chapter brings up specific goals that a merchant should consider when planning e-business. Elaborate on the key goals.

There are specific goals to consider when planning an e-business: a. Create and maintain a competitive edge b. Reduce operational costs c. Improve employee communication and satisfaction d. Find new markets for products or services e. Improve relationships with partners who provide the goods f. Create distinct distribution channels g. Ensure customer satisfaction h. Improve supply-chain management.

5. Elaborate on the distinctive types of hardware and software necessary to launch a business on the Internet.

This is best answered by the following set of questions: a. What hardware to buy? b. How fast should the hardware be? c. What about quality, reliability, and durability? d. What type of modem do you need? e. What brand should you buy? f. Do you buy through magazines or from stores? g. Do you buy from big companies or small ones? h. What about security and integrity of data transfer? i. How would one go about finding an ISP?

6. Distinguish between:

a. A browser and a Web server. A browser is a specialized software package that allows a user to surf the Internet, while a Web server is a dedicated PC that handles Internet traffic coming into and leaving users’ PCs. b. A mouse and a modem. A mouse is a point-and-click device that allows you to navigate a Web site or screen with ease. A modem is a device that converts an outgoing message into bits for transmission and converts incoming bits into a human-readable message. c. Telnet and file transfer protocol (FTP). Telnet is a software package that allows you to log onto a remote computer to access remote accounts. FTP is a protocol that allows you to transfer files to and from remote computers. d. Marketing phase and fulfillment phase. The marketing phase of e-commerce is all electronic-based activities that facilitate production of goods and services to satisfy customer demand. The fulfillment phase is the actual delivery of goods or services after payment has been assured.

7. In what way(s) is security critical in e-commerce? Explain.

Security is critical, essentially because the user demands it. The user is dealing with an electronic e-merchant who is essentially invisible. The user also demands privacy of shopping, in that any transactions purchased should be on a secure or a private line. This applies to the way payments via VISA or other credit cards are processed.

8. Discuss the basic rules when promoting security in online business.

In e-commerce, security is crucial for controlling access to the Web server, updating server software and encoding security measures to ensure server-Web site integrity, using firewalls to protect the merchant’s internal network, monitoring the traffic and detecting irregularities in time to minimize damage, and assigning Web security to a qualified Webmaster.

9. If you were to design a Web storefront, what factors, constraints, or parameters would you consider? Explain.

The main attributes of a storefront are: a. Customers should be able to find the product quickly. b. The site should have mechanisms to process the order and send it to the fulfillment center for quick and secure packing and shipping. c. The site should have mechanisms to generate a summary of the order and produce a printable receipt. d. The site should have mechanisms to send a confirming e-mail to customers.

10. How would one decide on whether to design the Web site in-house or outsource it to an outside agency?

The advantage of having the work done in-house is control over the entire project. Also, company staff assigned to the project will be familiar with the details that will fit the company’s image and product. The flip side of the coin is that effective Web design requires experience and expertise that often is not available in-house. Considering the time factor, outsourcing the Web design becomes the better alternative.

11. If you were assigned the job of locating a Web site developer, what factors would you consider in locating the right one? Explain.

a. Look at sites the designer has developed. b. Ask about the designer’s capabilities. Do they include logo design, database development, animation, user testing, site hosting, and promotion? c. Visit the designer’s shop and see the business at work. d. Consider how the designer reacts to your request for a proposal.

12. Elaborate on the key considerations in Web site design.

The key considerations of Web design are: a. User control and freedom to undo and redo paths they have taken by mistake and get back on track within your site. b. Consistency and standards in a way that users should not have to wonder whether different words or actions mean different things on different Web pages. c. Recognition rather than recall, which means objects and options should be visible, requiring no memorization or explanation. d. Efficient design so that dialogs should not have information that is either unrelated to the segment or rarely needed. e. Recovery from error, with error messages to be displayed in plain language and indicate the source of the problem and ways to correct it. f. Help desk, where the user can go for help on activities related to the product, service, how to order, etc.

13. What is involved in collecting payment for the products that customers order through a merchant’s Web site? Be specific.

First, e-commerce sites should accept as many credit cards as possible. Before jumping in and accepting credit cards, the online merchant needs an acquiring bank to handle the credit card processing. Electronic payment environment also requires a third party (e.g., CyberCash) to do the verification of the card and authenticate the transaction, resulting in proper credit to the merchant’s account at a designated bank. Finally, the e-business needs a secure communication line using software such as SET.

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