Let's say you're a wool sweater expert and you've decided to start your own Internet business. Well, great! But exactly what sort of business do you want? While you could simply knit a bunch of sweaters and sell them on a Web site, you'll want to consider your options first: You could start an online sweater auction, create a site for online custom sweater design, build a wool sweater information portal, or get together with your knitting buddies to sell all your different products from one site. These are just several Web business models you could choose.

Each Web business model draws on certain skills and will entail a certain set of responsibilities. Each will have a different source of profit. You'll need to understand the type of Web site functionality required for each one and what components can provide this capability, so that you can estimate your associated costs.

Let's examine the three most common Web business models: product sales (selling goods), service sales (offering services), and information delivery (providing an informational Web site). Here's an explanation of how that model works, along with information on the responsibilities, costs, and profits associated with it.

  • Web Business Model: Product Sales
    A Web business based on product sales is about selling a physical, shippable product online. The three main ways to sell products on the Web are by storefront, auction, and online mall, which is a site that offers products from different vendors.
  • Web Business Model: Service Sales
    Services, as well as products, can be sold via the Internet. Examples of a service sales business model for the Web are online brochures that describe your service and provide contact information, online malls that offer services from different vendors on one site, and service sites that bring an automated version of an offline service to the Web.
  • Web Business Model: Information Delivery
    There are several Web models for making money by delivering information. The most common models are online publications and portals.

Of course, the e-commerce possibilities can go as far as your imagination can take you. Sometimes you can combine two or more of the models we've listed here, and there are many other variations that are far too numerous to mention. If you come across a Web business model that we haven't discussed here, please send us an e-mail message at WorkzEditor. We'd love to hear from you.

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