"For companies pursuing the e-commerce bandwagon, John Murray believes caution is in order. Have they ever seen a new McDonald's open, then close shortly thereafter? Likely not. Why?
"As director of sales and marketing for A.E. Global, which operates Web sites for companies that sell wireless products wholesale and retail, Murray has seen the intricacies and hidden costs of operating a Web site stymie even ardent advocates of e-commerce.
"Murray finds the McDonald's example instructive. The fast-food giant is skilled at research, site location and customer demographics. The same attention to detail and market savvy remain important after opening day.
"It's no different when you launch a Web site," Murray says. "There's a lot that goes on before and afterward."
"Credit card verification, database queries and all the mechanics of product fulfillment also must be considered by wireless companies that want to sell products and services over the Internet.
"For some carriers, the capital and operating costs of a site have to be weighed against projected revenue or other advantages. Profit is not always king.
"The financial aspect of building and maintaining the Sprint PCS Web site is more than justified by the improved customer relationship that results in a more satisfied, loyal customer," says Paul Zak, the carrier's director of e-commerce.
"Aerial Communications' Web site is a marketing tool designed to increase sales, lower customer care costs and provide retail details.
"Functionality can be a matter of design. The Sprint PCS site tries to simplify and guide the user experience by classifying information into three main groups: Learn, Shop and Manage. "As a result, we experience a strong relationship with our customers," Zak says. "The by-products are lower sales costs and customer-service costs, and increased customer loyalty."