[thelist] does anybody make any money with e-commerce?

Miriam miriam at members.evolt.org
Thu Mar 14 07:03:00 CST 2002

> I'm wondering, can we now finally admit that e-commerce doesn't work for
> small businesses?

> Sites have always been rather guarded about how much they sell online, and
> more to the point, how much profit they make, and whether it covers the
> e-commerce-site's costs.
Sha, of course. Or do you want to tell us all your salary history right

> I'd also noticed an increasing number of malfunctioning e-commerce sites,
> where database or script errors prevent you actually buying anything, I
I haven't come across this. Maybe you should notify them.

> Are any small businesses actually making a profit from e-commerce?
Define small. I know one company that has fewer than 100 employees and last
year they made over $2,000,000 retail off of their web site.  (That was up
$1 million from the year before.) They don't sell flags, drugs, software or

> I feel as developer I am better off advising small businesses not to invest
> in e-commerce, but to provide information, and free additions to their
> products on the web, and to regard it as customer-relations/advertising not
> as a profitable set-up in itself.
Hey! Cool! Spoil it for the rest of us, will ya?

The web is still a very viable tool for sales. Just like any other venue,
though, it has to be properly invested in and nourished. Profits *never*
happen over night, and very rarely without an appropriate advertising and
marketing campaign. I know of a business that had to seriously curtail their
web investment after six months. At the same time, I know that every time
they built a real world store, they *expected* it to take 3-5 years before
it was "profitable." Just because this is built with pixels instead of
bricks, it should make money over night for free? What are ya, kidding? My
momma told me there's no free lunch. You want I should send her your way?
Many e-commerce businesses failed because they bought into the "new economy"
bullshit. Economics is economics and buisness is business is business. Some
businesses thrive, some fail. It's not alchemy and it's not magic -- and
neither is the web.

OK. Here endeth the lesson. For now.

Gotta go reread Adam Smith,

A mark, a buck a yen, or a pound since 1971

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