|December 11, 2000|
The spin on startups, Web commerce, E-markets, and Internet strategies
Edited by Brain Dakss (firstname.lastname@example.org)
GM Online Sales On The Money In Brazil
General Motors is positively gushing over what it says is the first high-volume Internet sales model of the automotive world. The automaker says its Brazilian Web site devoted entirely to selling a new sub-economy model is ringing up "groundbreaking" numbers. The site lets a car shopper configure, order, pay for, and track delivery of a Chevy Celta.
Since the site's debut Sept. 17, it's sold 8,679 Celtas, more than half of overall sales. GM expects that within a few months, more than 80% of Celtas will be sold online.
According to Wayne Barnnon, GM's regional marketing and e-GM director for Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, the Celta sales model saves customers money by offering the cars at one price and by using direct invoicing, which eliminates taxes in Brazil. GM also developed "a model for vehicle-storage centers to allow these direct sales to happen," he says. Those centers are close to dealerships.
GM's sales strategy capitalizes on two key trends in Brazil: a price-driven small-car market that accounts for 70% of auto sales and the country's speed in adopting Internet technology.
Brazil is a very well-wired nation, where 90% of all tax returns are submitted via the Web. Automotive industry studies show that 65% of Brazilian new-car buyers have Internet access.
E-Books Go Unread
In the new economy, you're allowed to judge a book by its cover. And since the jackets of E-books are clunky computers or the tiny screens of handheld devices, Americans are holding onto their real-world volumes.
Stephen King found out the hard way. Late last month, he stopped online installments of the novel The Plant, in part because the number of paid subscribers was way down.
Part of the problem, says Jupiter Research analyst Robert Hertzberg, was that King put out the E-book without marketing aid from a conventional publisher. But the means of reading E-books didn't help, he says.
Fewer than 50,000 U.S. consumers own devices created specifically to read E-books, and analysts agree that if they're going to catch on, the technology must be made more convenient, and the means to secure content, such as digital rights management software, needs to be developed.
"Who wants to hold a laptop while they lie on the couch or sit scrunched on the subway?" asks Gartner analyst Rob Labatt. E-book reading devices will have to "be cool," he says. "You can't be a nerd when you unfold the thing."
It Sure Beats Selling Candy
The National Christian School Association has found a way to use technology to raise money. It has enlisted the Community Access Program of search engine Education World to turn each of its 125 K-12 schools into Internet service providers.
Families will be offered Internet service for less than $20 per month. For each family enrolled, the school will receive $3 per month. The association's executive director, Philip Patterson, calls it easy money. "I don't know anything that's more of a superintendent's friend than a passive fund-raiser, where you're not out knocking on doors selling candy," he says.
Each school will be able to create its own home page. The school sites will be linked to the association's site, enhancing its efforts to create a tight-knit community for its educators in 35 states.
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