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E-commerce for the Museum CommunityFrancis Gary Powers, Jr., EBStor.com, USA
Janell Hauser, EBStor.com, USA
Session: Implementing E-Commerce
Every museum is in a position to offer uniquely designed "specialty" products via the Internet, which makes them a perfect candidate for e-commerce. This workshop examines ways to incorporate e-commerce capabilities into museum web sites to generate additional revenue, donations, and memberships. The goal of this workshop is to enhance critical assessment by identifying features of successful e-commerce sites, demonstrate examples of e-commerce capabilities currently used by museums, and define the required back-end functions and systems required to conduct e-commerce successfully.
The workshop will examine three major museum e-commerce applications: retail sales, membership applications, and development. Practical strategies of promoting websites will be discussed, including media, advertising, mailing lists, award sites, links, and affiliate programs.
E-development allows museums to solicit and accept on-line contributions. This enables the prospective donor to make a tax deductible financial donation on-line with a credit card. With the increased marketing of credit card perks, i.e., frequent flyer miles, individuals can make an on-line donation, instantaneously receive an email acknowledging the donation for tax purposes, and receive the added benefit of frequent flyer mile perks.
E-membership allows a visitor to become a museum member by filling out an on-line membership application and sending payment for the membership category electronically. Membership categories range from $25 to upwards of $5,000 and have designations such as, Friend, Member, Sustaining, and Life. Benefits range from free museum visits and complimentary magazine subscriptions, to inclusion on the Wall of Donors.
E-commerce allows visitor to purchase novelty items from on-line museum gift stores. At a minimum, a digital picture of each item for sale and a shopping cart database for multiple purchases is required. In addition, a medium for product distribution, such as a fulfillment house or museum staff is necessary.
Additional topics will include establishing secure Internet links (https://), setting up merchant accounts, developing on-line catalogues, distribution/clearing houses, and building and maintaining the database that will oversee the accounting and inventory aspects of e-commerce transactions.
The workshop will address how e-commerce related processes can be fully automated, to reduce staff requirements and increases the potential revenues. In addition, it will examine how a museum can conduct a cost benefit analysis to evaluate its return on investment.
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