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By Chris Consorte

I was speaking to a client the other day who has run a traditional brick and mortar operation for over 15 years. His small business is one that you would not expect to be cashing-in on e-commerce – although he certainly is – in that he sells industrial plumbing supplies.

As we got to talking, we chatted about his marketing initiatives – specifically his Internet strategy. I was pleasantly surprised to hear his e-commerce business was steadily becoming more than just “a website presence." In fact, he was acquiring new clients, building new relationships, and selling direct. In fact, his e-business was becoming a significant part of his whole business. Who knew selling toilet accessories to contractors online could be so successful?

Actually, I did. You see, at first my client was skeptical of having a web presence at all. He thought that e-commerce wouldn't apply to his operation, especially since there was some investment required to get things rolling. It took some effort to convince him that his hard-earned dollars would be well-spent on a solid e-commerce and Internet marketing strategy.

Fast-forward one month later. His 600-plus product e-commerce site was launched and marketing commenced. At the end of the first week, I figured I’d touch-base with to see how things were going. “I’m getting several prospect phone calls and e-mails daily – and I’ve already received a few online orders” he said. My initial feeling was one of relief since I was the catalyst for having him make the investment. However, when I thought about it for a second, it made perfect sense.

After all, 2005 was a true milestone for e-commerce business. Total Internet spending for the year reached $143.2 billion–up 22 percent over the $117.2 billion spent online in 2004*. “Cyber Monday," the Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday, have become a part of our American holiday shopping routine. It is similar to “Black Friday” for traditional retailers.

At this point, it's fair to say that businesses are buying more online. It's also fair to cite low operational costs, the ability to do business in an automated fashion 24/7, the exposure to a national–even an international–prospect-base and the fact that their competition is probably already doing business (or at least strategizing about it) online.

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Chris Consorte is the founder and managing partner of Integrated Direct and Integrated Interactive.
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