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Frank Remarks: The Seven Cardinal Sins of E-Commerce

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Columnist Frank Fiore describes seven cardinal web site sins that may only cost you money, but ultimately can be deadly to your business.
This article was adapted from Frank Fiore's book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting an Online Business. Frank is a regular contributor to InformIT.
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I was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition. I have fond memories of the Catholic grammar school I attended while I was a kid. And on these occasions I recall Sister Mary Theresa. I remember her clearly for her quick wit in class and hard ruler across the knuckles. She also taught one of my first religion classes that all good Catholic boys and girls were required to take.

And like all good Catholic children, we were taught to avoid the seven cardinal sins of Vanity, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, and Sloth.

Now that I'm an Internet professional, I can see a strong resemblance between the seven cardinal sins taught to me as a child and the seven cardinal sins of e-commerce.

So, here they are, along with some ways to avoid them.

Vanity: Going It Alone

There's a saying that goes, "You can do anything on the Internet—but you can't do it alone." In the world of e-commerce, outsourcing is not an evil word. Many new web stores fail to succeed due to a lack of professional design and programming know-how.

The biggest challenge to a new e-business is not so much the technical aspects—although they're important—but how best to execute your business plan.

Too few businesses on the Net use the resources available to take orders, clear credit cards, host sites, build stores, and so on. You can spend valuable time and resources building a site, hiring professionals to do the necessary programming, buying software and hardware, and paying advertising agencies. Instead, partner with companies on the Net that supply free or nearly-free resources to set up and run your business.

Sure, having a store on Yahoo! or selling other merchants' products through an affiliate program is not as glamorous as having your own custom online business. But if you're just starting out in the world of e-commerce or have limited funds, partnering with other sites on the web is a smart thing to do.

Even if you have the wherewithal to build a custom, one-of-a-kind web store, you can still partner with other sites to save time and money. You can include information content and community elements on your site by partnering with content and community providers that syndicate their programs to sites free of charge. For example, don't want to go through the hassle of setting up a merchant account to clear credit cards? Partner with one of the web-based credit card solution providers such as iBill or CCBill.

But you can't do it alone. There is a lot of help out there in cyberspace. Learn to use it by partnering with other web companies.

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