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E-COMMERCE ­ IT430
VU
Lesson 33
META INFORMATION
You know that a Meta tag contains the key information of a web page. This Meta information is used by a
search engine to locate and rank the web site. You provide your Meta information to a search engine, pay its
prescribed registration fee and get your site registered with the search engine. Search engine puts this Meta
information in its database. When a searcher types key words in the search engine text box, these key words
are matched with the Meta information recorded in the database of the search engine.
Different search engines have different ranking criteria. Normally, those sites are ranked at the top by the
search engine software where maximum keywords typed by the user match with the recorded Meta
information of the site, as well as, such words appear in greater frequency in the Meta information. Some
search engines search the entire internet each time. Many search engines rank the site by using a program
called `spider' which inspects the site before ranking. You know that one can view Meta information of
one's competitor's web site. This information can be incorporated and misused by an e-business in its web
site representing that to be its Meta information. Thus, such a business can improve its ranking on search
engines by capitalizing upon the reputation of the business whose Meta information it actually is. In many
countries, stealing and misusing Meta information in this manner to gain business/competitive advantage is
considered as an offence known as the tort of passing-off.
Partnerships
Partnering means to form a strategic union with another company/business for mutual benefit or profit
sharing. Partner businesses can provide complementary services and products to their customers and thus
benefit each other. For example an e-business selling computer science books having a link to an e-business
selling computers and vice versa can enter into a partnership for mutual advantage. Competitive advantage
to both the businesses in this arrangement is that the customers are a link away from buying a
complementary product/service. Thus, a person buying a computer from one site can be induced to buy
computer science books from the partner's web site. Moreover, partners can exchange technical research or
customer information. They can help each other in improving respective management or operations.
Outsourcing a job to a partner can also be useful.
Affiliate Programs
An affiliate program is an agreement between two parties that one will pay the other a commission based on
a specified customer action. It is not a strategic union as is partnership. Rather, it is for limited purpose and
time. Banner advertising is the example of an affiliate program.
Branding
A brand refers to an emotional shortcut between a company and its customers. You can say that it is the
trade name/symbol that reminds customers about the reputation of a company regarding its products or
services.
Elements of Branding
Researchers have identified three elements of branding, that is,
Differentiation
Relevance
Perceived Value
Product differentiation
Product differentiation is the first condition to be met in order to create/establish a product/service brand.
It means that a company must clearly distinguish its product from all others in the market in some
significant way so that the product/service is different from that of its competitors. For example, you can
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E-COMMERCE ­ IT430
VU
create/establish your brand on the basis that the soap manufactured by your business is unique in the
market in the sense that it does not dissolve quickly in water.
Relevance
Relevance means to what degree is the product/service useful for potential customers. For example, you
may have designed very distinguished jewelry but very few people use or purchase the same. In fact, it may
prove to be too costly for most people to buy. Note that your product/service should be capable of easily
relating itself to the people.
Perceived value
A product/service may be different and relevant (customers can see them using it), still they would not buy
unless they find some perceived value in it. For example, a restaurant may be selling a unique dish that
relates/associates itself to the taste of majority of people; still they may not be inclined to buy it because of
certain negative associations, such as its high fat content.
Thus, to create or maintain a brand the above three elements have to be fulfilled.
Emotional branding vs. rational branding
In case of television, radio or print media people are normally in a passive mode. To a greater extent they do
not control the communication channel and thus have to listen or view the advertisement about a brand.
This is a type of emotional branding. On the other hand, emotional appeals are difficult to covey on the
internet because web is an active medium largely controlled by the customers, which means that they can
easily click away from any such emotional appeals. Therefore, rational branding is normally used to create or
maintain brands on the web. Here, businesses offer something interesting or valuable to visitors in exchange
for viewing the advertisement. For example, a free email account with storage space can be offered through
some web pages, and on each such page (that offers this email service) the visitors have to see an
advertisement about the brand.
Note that transferring existing brands to the web or using the web to maintain an existing brand is much
easier and less expensive as compared to creating an entirely new brand on web. One common way of
popularizing the brand of a business on the web is to provide its URL on product packaging,
advertisements on TV or print media etc. One can also combine the URL with logo of a company on
brochures, visiting cards etc. in order to popularize the brand.
Global Marketing
As a marketer, when you are aiming at marketing your business in the entire world, you have to keep certain
considerations in mind. Your web design must provide content in various languages and provide prices in
various currencies, so that people belonging to different countries/cultures can understand the information
contained in your web site. A regular display of currency exchange rate information can be useful in this
behalf. Today, tools exist that can translate emails and your web sites into different languages. Another
important consideration should be as to whether the country where you are doing the business has the
required infrastructure to support your e-business. For example, whether you have a proper distribution
channel of your products in a country you are doing business in. Similarly, you should carefully choose a
payment system for your e-business which is compatible with the environment of a country where you are
doing business. For example, a payment mechanism using SET cannot be considered as compatible with
business environment in most of the third world countries.
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