Gather recent information onAmazon.com.
Only a handful of market leaders, among them Amazon and Dell, have embraced global online commerce, while the bulk continue to focus on their local markets, according to a 2008 report by Forrester Research analysts.
'Complex regulations, logistical hurdles, as well as consumers' varying behaviour and expectations are some of the factors that have given pause to online retailers planning international expansion,' says a Forrester Research analyst.
Another challenge is collecting payments. The range of payment service providers, which act as a conduit between e-retailers and banks, is large, but many only handle payment methods common in their local market.
'It often comes as a surprise to e-retailers that they need to tailor payment options to national markets; they quickly find that payment cultures are very diverse, particularly in emerging markets,' says chief executive of Global Collect, which says it can handle local payment methods for 'more than 200 countries'.
He says there is also a correlation between the number of preferred local payment methods offered and increased sales figures.
For a longer version of this article, go towww.ft.com/digitalbusiness.
Source: Financial Times, January 28, 2009 (Digital Business Financial Times Special Report)
At each stage in its extraordinary development, the internet has encountered scepticism and resistance in boardrooms. Alarms have greeted each internet-based technology: would it distract employees or, worse, create unacceptable risks?
Over time, internet tools have been accommodated and have delivered huge benefits. But the same questions are now being asked about the latest generation of internet technologies, such as social networking tools.
Much attention has been lavished on the poster children of the Web 2.0 phenomenon – Face-book, YouTube, Twitter and the like – but for many business leaders, such consumer-led innovations seem frivolous, and have little to do with developing new products, increasing market share or streamlining clunky business processes. Some ban Web 2.0 tools.
They need to be aware, however, that a quiet revolution is taking place. That's the message from Soumitra Dutta and Matthew Fraser, academics at the Insead business school in France and authors of Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom.
They detail how companies, including General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Shell and Airbus, are busy integrating social networking into their corporate strategies. These companies, say the authors, are showing that the use of blogs, wikis, widgets and other Web 2.0 tools 'encourages horizontal collaboration and harnesses the power of collective intelligence to boost productivity, foster innovation and create enhanced value'.
'We set out to explore, in an objective and rigorous way, whether the concept of Enterprise 2.0 could deliver real business benefits,' they say. They found plenty of evidence that it could, although conceding that the biggest obstacles to its acceptance may be cultural, overcoming the scepticism of business leaders and their fears about the free-flow of information in their companies.
Mr Fraser says the current economic crisis could force Web 2.0 into the business mainstream: 'A downturn raises questions about how organizations are structured and how they tap into the knowledge and expertise of employees, suppliers and customers. Enterprise 2.0 has already been shown to provide valuable answers, where it is used intelligently.'
Oliver Young, an analyst with Forrester Research, says there are two key areas: tools to boost collaboration and productivity, both internally and with trusted partners; and tools used by companies to provide a forum for dialogue between them and their customers.
The first camp is the best established, says Mr Young. Corporate knowledge management initiatives have seen a steady rise in the use of wikis, for example, with groups of experts working together, pooling ideas and solving problems. This is where SocialText, a key company in the Enterprise 2.0 movement, made its start in 2002.
In any case, many executives may find that Enterprise 2.0 is already happening at their organization without them knowing, so they may as well embrace it, says John Newton, chief technology officer and chairman at Alfresco, an open source content management company.
He says: 'Any scepticism will not be overcome by technology vendors, but by employees.'
As the next generation of employees enters the workplace, he adds, their demands are likely to become more strident, making the provision of social networking tools critical to businesses looking to attract the best and brightest.
Is Amazon.com succesful of still struggling for existance?
Is business taking Web 2.0 tools seriously enough? What do you think?
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