The modern business world has evolved from the traditional brick and mortar to require companies to develop some form of eBusiness strategy into their business models. Ebusiness can be simply defined as the use of the internet to connect with customers, partners, and suppliers.(Darwinmag, 1) The advent of eBusiness has not only grown tradition businesses but has also paved the way a whole group of internet based companies that find the online environment as the primary market. There are various eBusiness models but this paper will focus on Business-2-Consumer, Consumer-2-Consumer, and eGovernment. These various models offer both businesses and consumers opportunities to interact that may not have existed before the internet.
B2C – BMWUSA
BMW is a well known luxury automobile manufacturer that prides itself on building “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” BMWUSA.com is the internet website that offers consumers a place to view current models, build and price vehicles, locate dealers, compare models to competitors, and other features that give the customer information about company and its products. The site is primarily used as an information tool for consumers to view the company’s model lineup and gather information on events such as car shows and charity events. The site does offer real-time inventory tracking for its Certified Pre-Owned vehicles but not for new model inventory.
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The potential buyer is able to view the current model lineup and go to build their specific vehicle. Once the specific vehicle is priced, the customer is offered the option to compare their vehicle to other BMWs or competitor vehicles. The customer is then directed to calculate financing options. The final step is sending the customer inquiry to local dealership via e-mail. There are several weaknesses with the current format as the prices calculated on the website are only MSRP and does not reflect actual dealer negotiated prices. Another drawback is that the customer web experience does not complete the buying process as the customer is required to go to the dealership to make the actual purchase. Customers are able to make orders via e-mail contact but actual pricing information is rarely given via this median.
Once the consumer has actually ordered a vehicle from a dealership, they are then offered access to the “elite” portion of the site known as the Owner’s Circle. The Owner’s Circle offers more brand information and articles of achievement to build further interest in the BMW community. The buyer is also able to track where their vehicle is in the production and delivery process with updated dealer arrival information. The complete order is listed with all options and color choices so the customer is able to detect if an error in order has occurred while the car is still in production.
The site offers the BMW a place to market it latest model offerings, accolades, and achievements and give the customer all pricing and model information to make an informed decision but also build nostalgia for the product and brand. Although BMW has not fully utilized the site to actually use it as a source of revenue, it has built itself a powerful marketing tool with all necessary contact information and ease to better promote the brand and individual dealerships. With B2C eCommerce expected to grow to $184billion in 2004, BMW should utilize their site build online financing and ordering options to differentiate itself from others in the industry.(Darwinmag, 2) BMW uses the site to build good leads for salesman to pursue so that the sales staff is able to contact customers that already have some level of interest in the product.
C2C – EBAY
Ebay is the world online marketplace that offers services to both buyers and sellers of products that functions like a gigantic garage sale. The mission statement is to provide a global trading platform where practically anyone can trade practically anything. Businesses and individuals will go to Ebay to buy and sell items in thousands of categories. Ebay goes to great lengths to ensure a safe, friendly, and secure online trading experience.