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Top three e-business blunders

Canada’s e-business industry attracts big money, according to Statistics Canada. Entrepreneurs, small businesses and large corporations alike all want their…

By Emily Jackson , in Vancouver Gets Down to eBusiness , on March 30, 2010 Tags: , , , , ,

Statistics Canada collected information from more than 19,000 businesses to determine the size of the e-commerce industry in Canada.

Canada’s e-business industry attracts big money, according to Statistics Canada. Entrepreneurs, small businesses and large corporations alike all want their piece of the multi-billion dollar pie.

Professor teaches MBA students about e-business at UBC’s Sauder School of Business. He sat down with me to discuss the major pitfalls associated with online business endeavors.

In order, here is Cenfetelli’s list of the top three blunders companies make when trying to put the ‘e’ before business.

1. Bad business strategy

“e-business isn’t magic – just because you put it online doesn’t mean it’s going to be successful,” said Cenfetelli.

Many companies lack a basic business strategy, according to Cenfetelli. “You need to know what your business is about, who your market is, what you’re going to sell and to whom,” he said.

2. Design flaws

Professor Ron Cenfetelli

“In a split second, people make an evaluation of your site,” said Cenfetelli.

Just like job interviews, count. Cenfetelli says your website is the face you show the world – people won’t hesitate to judge it.

He added that professional websites that “behave well” might cost tens of thousands of dollars to develop.

What if a small business can’t afford website development?

Cenfetelli recommends they use a third party platform, such as or . These sites offer a home on the Internet, storage and transaction capabilities.

“Someone else has already figured out infrastructure for you so you don’t have to focus on that,” he said. “Focus on what your core business is about.”

3. Security

Consumers across the board are concerned with online security, according to Ipsos Reid.

“It’s a constant arms race where you have to come up with more security to protect your platform,” said Cenfetelli.

For as long as there has been sensitive information, there have been hackers who want it. Cenfetelli says the battle between developers and hackers has become worse over time.

“Hackers are constantly finding ways of leveraging online platforms for their own gains,” he said. “Now you need that distinguish human beings from automated bots that want to spam.”

Are you a human? If so, you should be able to read this captcha. If you can't, you're probably a computer.

Customers now demand basic security for commercial transactions, supplied by companies such as VeriSign. This keeps consumers’ credit card numbers, addresses and personal details safe.

However, security isn’t cheap. Cenfetelli estimated that small businesses spend a few hundred dollars each month for a basic security packages.

Breaking the rules

As always, there are exceptions to the rules. Cenfetelli mentioned and , both notorious for committing all three of these “mistakes.”

“It seems like they’re creating money out of thin air,” said Cenfetelli.