In the past few years, microcommerce has become big business on the Internet. By offering products, information, or services for a small subscription or a one-time fee, many businesses have seen phenomenal growth. Can microcommerce work for your business?
While many people feel that everything on the Internet, especially information, should be free, there are millions of people who will gladly pay a small fee for information they need. Subscriptions are one way that small businesses can create their own microcommerce revenue streams. Be sure to read up on Copyright Concerns of Small Businesses.
The key to microcommerce is keeping costs down. Most people can justify small expenditures over an extended period of time much more easily than they can justify a large one-time purchase.
Fees can range anywhere from as little as $.05 to $5. Keep in mind that it is called “microcommerce” for a reason — fees should not exceed $5 for a single purchase. Many sites offer a blanket subscription, where the reader only has to pay $5 each month for continued access. Other sites prefer to sell content on a per-article basis. Learn How to Choose the Right E-Commerce System.
If you have a great deal of information or articles on your Web site, you could be profiting from them by selling access time or subscriptions to your content. This works best for archived material. You can offer a certain number of articles for a week or a month for free, but if anyone wants to access them after that time, they will need to pay a small fee. Many daily newspapers operate their Web sites in this fashion.
Software companies can take advantage of microcommerce streams by offering updates, service plans, or add-ons to their existing line of products. For example, if a company sells a software program, they can offer unlimited technical support for a small fee each month.
Other examples of microcommerce streams include offering an ad-free zone on your Web site. If you currently have sponsor advertising on your site, you can create a paid member’s area where your visitors can read your information or use your product without having to see any advertising information.
You can also offer access to additional information or products that cannot be obtained by the general public that visits your site. These special access items can include reports, e-books, in-depth content, or other features.
If selling subscriptions is new to you, there are some extra considerations. Make sure your customers know that their credit cards will be charged every month (or week, or year, depending on your billing cycle), and stick to this schedule to cut down on complaints. Automatic billing can help ensure that the majority of your subscribers will continue their subscriptions.
In a stressed economy, offering low-cost information or products is a great way to ensure a steady income stream for your business. Take a look at your Web site and see if there are ways that you can benefit by adding microcommerce to your current sales.