Innovative Internet-Enabled Business Models

In this digital age, businesses that fail to operate online risk going offline for good.

The growing popularity of smartphones, tablets and digital media provides opportunities for a company not only to use fragmented new-age marketing effectively to promote existing products, but also to come up with innovative business models where product demo, customer acquisition and order fulfillment can take place online.

Innovative business models might include the following:

Online Marketplaces—Several e-commerce companies have created global online marketplaces for selling books, consumer goods and other products. In such business models, customer acquisition is usually initiated through the company’s website. The company coordinates with its multiple suppliers to source products; samples, demos and product reviews are provided on the website; customers make their purchases online; and items are shipped directly to customers.

Here is an example of Online Marketplaces:

  • Book publishing and retail businesses, which historically gained much success using traditional business models, have been significantly affected by the advent of online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, Alibaba and Flipkart.

Online Services—Online services have significantly impacted many traditional product and service industries by transforming existing business models and creating new ways to conduct business.

Here are examples of Online Services:

  • Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and online maps have made physical maps redundant.
  • Online learning tools have gained popularity and, at times, can complement or even replace physical classroom training.

Online Networking—The Internet has made the world a smaller place. People can now access their networks at all times. These changes have significantly impacted the way in which people communicate with each other and, in turn, have created new possibilities for innovative business models.

Here is an example of Online Networking:

  • Social media channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook and Google+ have significantly changed the way in which people communicate with each other.

Business Models Using Smartphones and Tablets—Smartphones and tablets are Internet-enabled devices that allow people to have an ongoing connection to the Internet. Since individuals usually carry their smartphones and tablets with them, mobile apps are becoming increasingly popular. Innovative business models based on the use of mobile devices can disrupt several existing business models—more so in industries that rely on other forms of communications and networking.

Here are examples of Business Models Using Smartphones and Tablets:

  • Social media channels such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn provide mobile apps that enable users to easily share photos and updates or chat with friends.
  • Some mobile apps allow users to locate nearby restaurants, read reviews and also post reviews about their experiences.

In terms of business, the popularity of the Internet has fueled the “adapt or die” landscape more than ever. Business models that integrate online marketplaces, online services and online networking, and that allow for compatibility with smartphones and tablets, offer businesses excellent opportunities for sustained success.

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