How to Communicate effectively Part (I) - Why Communication is so vital in e-commerce ?

The easy access and anonymous nature of Internet is both a boon as well as a curse for international business. Its a boon as it provides a level playing field for small and medium enterprises in international market. Anyone with little investment in computer and Internet connection can reach out to world market and compete with the heavyweights - a scenario completely unthinkable even a few years back.

Its a curse - because a whole lot of ineffectual people ranging from greenhorns, get-rich-quick agents to outright frauds and conmen can easily disguise as experienced/respected businessmen and waste your valuable time (at best) or at worse rip you off.

In the virtual world of cyberspace, often the only mean your customer has to evaluate you is your communication - your language, presentation and style. Your e-mail/web-site/ presentation etc. are your faces to the world - and these must inspire sufficient confidence in your customer to transact business with you or at least take you seriously. This is a marked difference from traditional business and you should be aware of this feature of e-commerce.

You may be well known in your own country but the overseas customer has no way of knowing how true your claims are. The only touchstone he/she has is your communication - you must make sure they are really professional looking. The professional visitors must immediately know from your offer that it has been written by another professional.

Now what makes an offer professional or get distinguished as serious ? It is not a 10-Mb file attachment on your company history or flowery language that is going to impress your customer - if anything these are going to bog down your rating further. The hallmarks of a good communication are precise and relevant content, pleasing format/style and professional presentation.

By relevance, I mean on subject, THE RECIPIENT IS INTERESTED. Your communication must have a central theme and all arguments should logically and coherently flow from there. �Precise� is filtering out stuff not related to main theme. This ruthless filtering out will make your content �unambiguous�

The format and style has as much bearing as the content. Sentences should be short and unambiguous - neatly grouped into paragraphs. Use direct speech using a conversational style as much as possible. Paragraph length should not exceed 10 lines normally.

The presentation must inspire confidence on ability of the presenter. A 150 Kb Web-page with dozens of colors and fonts only evokes disdain - however good the content or style may be.

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Source: FAIDA - Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad Vol: 2, Issue 41 March 21' 2002

Author : Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development, MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of his own. He may be reached at )

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