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No place for sinners on the Internet

IN THE thirteenth century, Dante listed the seven deadly sins on the pathway to Paradise: gluttony, lust, greed, envy, pride, anger and sloth.

Now, almost eight hundred years later, businesses stepping out into the world of electronic commerce are still committing these seven sins.

• Gluttony: trying to be all things to all people

Many potentially good e-commerce sites fail by trying to please everybody, and end up satisfying nobody. Don’t fall into this trap.

Otherwise, you’re not just a glutton – you’re a glutton for punishment.

• Lust: falling for gimmicks

Tell me honestly: When was the last time you fell in love with a web site because of its glitzy animations and sound effects? Never, right?

Look at the businesses trying to make money from the Internet. You won’t find fancy gimmicks at Amazon.com, AltaVista or Yahoo. They are plain, fast and effective.

• Greed: misunderstanding the Internet community

Every successful web site gives something away. Find something that will encourage people to visit your site – a tip of the day, a regular newsletter, free samples, articles about your industry or just some good advice.

• Envy: Copying tactics that don't fit your strategy

You can’t emulate a successful web site by copying it. What you see is not even close to what you get. The web site is just one part of a carefully planned and successfully executed business strategy.

By all means, look around to see what other businesses are doing, but end up with something that works for YOU.

• Pride: expecting people to come to you

So you've built the world’s greatest web site. Fine, but if you don't promote it, how do you expect people to find it?

Successful e-commerce is a three-way proposition. You build a great product, you tell people about it and you then sell it to them.

Two out of three ain’t good enough and the area where most people fall down is in marketing.

• Anger: focusing on high-tech, forgetting about high-touch

Actually, I lied. Successful e-commerce is a FOUR-way proposition: You build a great product, you tell people about it, you sell it – and you treat people right.

If you don’t do the fourth, you’ll incur the wrath of your potential customers or, worse, they’ll silently take their business elsewhere.

Whatever technology can do for us, it’s still true that people do business with people.

• Sloth: dragging your feet

Don’t aim for perfection – settle for excellence. When you do something on the Internet, it’s not chiselled in stone.

Plan it, design it, build it, test it and fine-tune it – but most important of all...do it!

• Gihan Perera is a business consultant and the author of Secrets of Internet Business Success.

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