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Greed: Forcing a Square Peg into a Round Hole

Your product sells well in the real world. It should sell just as well online, right? Wrong! Just because a particular product sells well in retail stores, that doesn't mean that it will sell well online. Take a hard look at the products or even services you want to sell over the Net, and ask yourself these questions:

  • Can my product or service be pictured and clearly understood through electronic means only? Until virtual reality becomes a reality, viewing a product through cyberspace will never replace the hands-on experience of the real world. So, pick a product to sell that doesn't require the shopper to physically handle before he or she can purchase it. If your product or service requires a personal sales touch, you might have problems selling it online.

  • Is my product heavy or bulky? Will it cost an exorbitant amount to ship the product to a customer? Selling refrigerators, washing machines, and wide-screen TVs (and 50-pound bags of dog food—remember Pets.com?) might be a good idea, but think of the shipping costs to the customer and actually handling these items in your warehouse.

  • Do my products carry a high product liability? Handled improperly, some products can cause physical injury or property damage. Make sure that your products or services are covered by liability insurance. Find out who's responsible if someone is injured using your product or if your service doesn't deliver as promised.

Be sure you have all these questions answered before you set out to sell your product or service to the public. And before offering anything on the Net, evaluate its suitability for online sales.

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