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The Wal-Mart-ization of e-commerce

Now all you need is a good idea to make some good money. You can start right away by getting a dot-com domain name registration for a year for much less than $1 a month, and get a sparkling Web site for under $5 per month. For an additional $3 a month, get an encryption capability on the same site so you can offer secure online credit-card transactions. Cha-ching. Plus, e-mail and many more other things thrown in for free. In principle you will have almost the same basic e-commerce tools as any other large corporation. All that power and business tools for under $10 per month.

This is not a fiction; it’s a reality at GoDaddy, the fastest-growing domain registrar in the world. CEO Bob Parsons, the boy wonder amongst the hundreds of the ICANN domain registrars, is not only very aggressive but also very business savvy: “ if you don’t have a Web site, then obviously there is something seriously wrong with you”.

He believes in making e-commerce functionalities very easy and very cheap so every single person could play the game. E-commerce is no longer an expensive process or an exclusive club. These phenomenal cost reductions compounded by the awareness of e-commerce explain the new worldwide boost in the domain name activity.

Think: Just a few years ago, BooBoo.com paid $170 million to get their Web site finished. Of course they went belly-up in the first 100-plus days before the site could go up. Those days there were ChooChoos and FooFoos, everyone needed millions to start any type of a e-commerce project, and thousands of shocking stories floated around the globe. Corporate identity practices got kicked for creating too many silly name brands. Big bucks created that short boom time but now pennies are going to create long-lasting good times.

It’s cyber time and once again a different kind of a boom overtakes America. This time, it may be in pennies but its big economical impact will be felt much later. The influx of new business sites with new ideas, the new entrepreneurial spirit and the new exposure to innovation are fuelling this American grassroots revolution in silence. Until each and every one of us will end up with a site, a portal with full e-commerce tools making us fully equipped citizens of an e-commerce driven society, then and only then will we hear its thunder.
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We have no option but to do this as other nations are also in the same race. Very soon, some smart cities and towns and eventually countries will be offering all this and more for free to its entire population. Guaranteed.

During all this, those support services, which were feeding on the earlier boom and offered super expensive deals, are in a deep freeze. Only very pragmatic and highly measurable ROI support services are left in the game. Traditional branding and big budget advertising is gasping in need of oxygen. The Internet is littered with services offering logos and branding for pennies. The future clearly points to a Wal-Martization of overall corporate services. Imagine, now, $10 per month makes you a serious player on e-commerce. Of course, this figures is just to make a point, as many businesses still require millions at the starting gate.

Now that the tools are in place, it also opens a brand new door to educate and improve the functionality of Web-site holders so they can advance to higher grounds. Flat and boring, the first generation Web sites and old-fashioned designs are over. Also are the earlier generation, long and twisted domain names now requiring some educational support to make them highly transactional and most importantly, proprietary and globally brandable in nature. This can be achieved very easily via distant learning, web-conferencing and other e-commerce tools.

E-commerce is growing and multiplying on its own and behaving like an alien blob from some other planet. With some sophisticated contents and educational components it can exponentially increase the visibility for these millions of operators of brands and marketers of services, all projecting their growth from the grass roots. Not bad at all, in contrast to the old-style, slow-paced business cycles, measured only in decades and for economists to later chew about.

E-commerce’s gatekeepers, the domain registrar face these new challenges to provide more and more value added services while the customer’s challenge is to optimize the exposure of their goods and services.

Both goals are not only doable but also rather very logical. Registrars must become more sophisticated than just a hit-and-run registration. Value-added services not only bring in higher margins but also turn them into real players.

Corporate branding, global naming expertise and sharper strategies for higher exposure and visibility will fill the vacuum. Like the newspapers of the early days and how they later became top media companies. E-commerce is about to engross all of us and for anyone to play; all it needs is an idea, $10 and some brains on the go.

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Naseem Javed, author of Naming for Power and Domain Wars, is recognized as a world authority on global name identities and domain issues. Javed founded ABC Namebank International, a consultancy he established a quarter century ago, and conducts executive workshops on image and name identity issues. For comments reach Naseem at njabc@njabc.com.

The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.

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