Next, electronic data interchange, is the act of businesses exchanging data online. Electronic data interchange, or EDI, is one of oldest forms of technology for computer-to-computer exchanges. EDI can exchange: business invoices, purchase orders, price quotes, and general sales information. EDI requires the use of computer software, so the two EDI partners must have compatible software toy be able to undertake the exchange, however, most of this is conducted over the internet utilizing web browsers now-a-days, so software compatibility isn’t as important anymore. When business utilize electronic data interchange, most of the time they can see a reduction in paper use, increases the speed of the exchange cycle, greatly reduces errors. EDI can also help business to be more efficient in their production, so they only have to produce enough to match demand, which reduces the amount of stock they have to have on hand, which in turn reduces cost. The act of doing this is called quick response or just-in-time inventory. EDI is commonly taken place over extranets, which is a secure website setup for allowing the data exchanges. Extranets can be accessed by: customers, suppliers, and other authorized users, and allow them to access internal company information in order to enhance business relationships. Electronic data transfers are extremely helpful in providing quick ways for business to communicate with one another to maintain an enhanced relationship.
On a more personal basis, many companies have blogs and emailing systems. Blogs are personal, friendly environments where businesses can keep customers informed about new products and services, and customers can respond and give feedback about those products or services. For instance, a company posts a blog entry about a new product they are coming out with, the customers can then give feedback about that product to give that company new ideas on how to improve their product. Blogs can often be made by independent companies who review other companies products, thus giving customers more ways to find real world information about products. Instead of only hearing what’s good about the products from the company, customers can here the negatives and positives of products via third party blogs. The next way a company can get product information to customers is emailing lists. Basically, when customers visit company websites, the company has links to sign up for an emailing list. The list of email address are then periodically sent an email regarding what’s going on in the company, or including information about future products. Doing this helps to increase enthusiasm and knowledge about the company, and in turn, can increase the potential of those customers actually purchasing something. Also, having interesting content on a blog, the company can keep potential customers on their website, instead of the competitions, thus promoting brand loyalty. When a company has interesting and engaging blogs or emails for customers, that company is establishing brand loyalty and increases the possibility of their website visitors to purchase products.
Now, how do companies gather and use information from the internet to promote and expand their business? First of all, many companies actually spend time surfing the web to find competing companies, and do as much research as they can about those companies. By doing that, the company can gain valuable knowledge on what other competing companies are doing, so they can have a better advantage new products or services soon to be released. This means, that if, say, Apple were to come out with a new iPhone, but a prototype of that was left somewhere, and found by someone else, Apples competing companies can see the prototype version and possibly beat Apple to market with a better version of said phone. That actually happened with the iPhone 4, as well, and because of that, the competing phone, the HTC Evo 4G, was released for sale just 3 days before the iPhone 4 was introduced, which could have potentially hurt sales figures dramatically. Many companies are always on the scavenge for new product information from their competitors, so they can beat them to market and take away sales from the competitors product. Well, not all companies are on the lookout to destroy a competitors future product, some just want to get more information about their customers. This way, the company can better understand their potential customers to be able to tailor make their products for that specific group of users. In other words, if a companies customers all like high-end or expensive merchandise, then that company would respond to that, and produce high end and more expensive products. Many companies use surveys on their website to help determine the identity of their customer base. For instance, some websites have a pop-up that opens upon leaving their website, asking you to take a brief survey. So, many companies research their competitors to get a leg up on their competition, and have website viewers take surveys so they can better understand their customers needs, all to tailor make the products to what the market is demanding.
(On last page of part 3)