Thursday, October 20, 2011

E-Commerce - Learning To Sell Online

Back in the early 1990's, I worked in the head office of 'General Accident Assurance Company of Canada', in their Research & Development Department. I was very fortunate to be assigned to some of their most innovative marketing, product development and R&D projects.

One of the projects I had the pleasure of working on, was helping to create General Accident's Online Storefront.  Now, in those days, e-commerce sites were built in communities like AOL and CompuServe (yikes, did I just date myself?).  Communities like this existed before the world wide web was used for commercial purposes.  It was really the only option at the time that made good business sense to executive management at GA.

GA's online storefront was more of an information centre for GA's Brokers and Sales Agents - it wasn't really meant for the general public, although you could visit them and learn all about their product and services.  Their main business reason for creating an online presence within CompuServe was to provide a centralized location for GA's international community of Brokers and Agents to visit, so they could download corporate overviews, product brochures, policy forms, insurance forms, and all the necessary business documents that were needed to sign up new business and serve existing customers.

GA was an early adopter of e-commerce and were noted as being a trailblazer in the global insurance industry, as they were the first insurance company to create an online presence.  I co-developed the online storefront, and created the content that was published on the site. I also developed a training program and trained our sales agents and brokers on how to use the system. Those were some 'good old days' - where we had a lot of fun training inside sales staff, attending tradeshows, and travelling North America to debut our state of the art e-commerce site on CompuServe.

Within two years of developing our CompuServe Storefront, the world wide web opened up for commercial use and GA's executive management were one of the first company's to build a website. Naturally, I was part of the web development team and found myself having to learn HTML coding. The coding was a daunting task so we experimented with some early versions of HTML Web Editor software. If memory serves me right, we used HotDog for a bit, then moved on to something more robust, unfortunately I can not recall the name of the product, but it was a paid service and was far superior to HotDog. Ahhh, some good memories.

It's hard to believe almost 20 years has passed and we are now living in the digital economy, where global online sales exceeded a trillion dollars in 2010.  Canadian Consumers spent $16 billion and by 2015 it is projected that Canadian Online spending will nearly double. 

So I'm thinking that if you haven't moved your brick and mortar business to the online world, now is a good time to start because 40% of your potential market is buying your type of services online.

So how do you get started?  

Here is a really good information video that will tell what you need to know about selling online:

If you need additional help getting started, we offer a full suite of training and coaching services that support retailers, small business and producers with marketing automation, digital technology, and new and social media for business.  There is government funding available for digital skills development for small business.

If you are ready to move your business to the online world, we offer a 60 minute complimentary needs assessment. 

To book your session, you can:
  1. Call me at 902-724-3330
  2. Skype me at, or 
  3. Book online using our GenBook Scheduling Service:  
GenBook_Book Now

Author: Nancy Beth Guptill
Founder of Sweet Spot Marketing Canada
Marketing & Social Media Training Consultant
Twitter: @SweetMarketing

About Sweet Spot Marketing: Sweet Spot Marketing is a new media marketing training and education company that lives by the motto "It is better to know than to think you know, there is power in knowledge". We have a host of education programs in the areas of digital technology, new and social media, marketing automation, creativity, commercial innovation and entrepreneurial thinking. To learn how we work with government, business organizations and corporate clients, please book a complimentary assessment appointment:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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Create an Online Store