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Frank Remarks: The Seven Cardinal Virtues of E-Commerce

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In an earlier column, Frank Fiore described seven cardinal sins of e-commerce. Now that you know what to avoid, it's time to learn what you should be doing to help your e-business survive and thrive.
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A few weeks ago I wrote about the seven cardinal sins of e-commerce. All you sinners out there have repented—I hope—, so this week I'll reveal the seven cardinal virtues of e-commerce. To rephrase Abraham Lincoln, "Vices and virtues: Can't have one without the other!" As for the current "dot-bombs," they didn't adhere to an older Greek proverb: "First secure an independent income, then practice virtue."

At any rate, besides being the first names of many a modest Christian girl, the virtues of faith, hope, charity, justice, temperance, prudence, and fortitude—when properly adhered to—can buttress your e-business through these turbulent times and help it excel in the better e-commerce world to come.

So here they are and how to practice them in your day to day e-business.

Faith: Believe in Yourself

Though not of the business persuasion, Socrates suggested he knew something of the virtues of e-commerce when he said "Know thyself." If you don't know who your company is and what it offers, your customers won't know these things either.

You have to make it clear—crystal clear—what you're selling and how you differ from your competition. Take the time to sit down and figure out what makes your business unique and ask yourself these questions.

  • What kind of business are you in? There are just three ways to make money on the Net: Sell products or services, sell information or subscriptions to information, or sell advertising. Decide which of these is your primary revenue generator.

  • Does your business sell on price, selection, or service? If it's price, how are you going to be the low-price leader in your market or product or service niche? If it's selection, do you have a specialty boutique selling products that are difficult to find anywhere else? If it's service, what kind of value are you adding to your products or services that differentiates you from your competition?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you'll be able to forge a unique selling position (USP) that offers your target customers what they're looking for.

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