The Learning Center
This curriculum and successful e-commerce ventures that your clients will engage in depends on you!
The objective of this curriculum is to provide guidance and encouragement to people that may have limited computer skills as they begin to explore the opportunities offered by small-scale Internet-based businesses.
In order to do this we, the educators, must instill confidence in our clients' abilities to use e-commerce for the fulfillment of personal goals. In fostering this confidence we must provide technical support and computer know-how as they are developing their internet skills.
This learning module provides case studies of successful businesses that can be used as role models. In addition, learners can also use examples from their own lives and community such as neighbors who produce and sell products online, operate small farmers and engage in truck farming activities, participate in local farmers markets, and persons in the community who are known to make special products such as jams, jellies, toys, quilts or other craft products. Participants may also be directed to our case studies learning module, where they can see other good examples of rural businesses.
Facilitating a free flowing discussion in which all group members are encouraged to participate, including Extension educators, can help new e-commerce students identify these financial, social and psychological desired rewards. The most important part of the role of the educator is to help learners understand that their life skills have value and that products they make can be sold over the Internet.
The curriculum, revised by Connie Hancock, Jay Jenkins, and Jennifer Nixon, University of Nebraska Extension; and Glenn Muske, North Dakota State University Extension, hopes to increase the number of food producers implementing one or more online marketing strategies. The new ZMag format engages, for example, grocery store, gift shop, or food specialty shop owners who would like to sell directly to the consumer, with interactive content such as videos, interesting links and a host of additional resources.
Connecting the community and its members to the world through the Internet is becoming increasingly essential for community vitality. Yet, within rural communities, this task can be challenging. Connecting Communities, the most recently released curriculum in the National E-Commerce Initiative, is designed to help rural communities conquer this challenge. Developed by William Shuffstall, Sheila Sager, Rae Montgomery, & Dana Noonan, this guide is designed to enhance the use and adoption of information technology tools and infrastructure in rural communities. Cooperative extension educators and community leaders can use this guide to improve:
- The availability of access to broadband connectivity across the community;
- The ability of organizations in the community to use digital technology to achieve their mission and goals; and
- The ability of individuals in the community to use digital technology to improve their social and economic well-being.
These case studies stand as an example to help other entrepreneurs relate to the story behind the business. Small business owners seeking inspiration and confidence to develop or enhance their Web presence can learn from the actual Web sites associated with the case studies. In addition, they can relate to the process which other small businesses undertook to develop and manage their e-commerce strategies and accompanying Web sites. Case studies can also be used in program marketing presentations with business and civic groups, development organizations, youth entrepreneurship groups, or in consultations with individual business owners.
We recommend that a wide variety of case studies be used. Selecting several similar case studies would not be appropriate at early stages of learning if instructors are hoping to expand participants’ knowledge of the various ways businesses are using e-commerce. A narrowly-focused approach would also increase the risk of not connecting with the audience, especially if their possible interests are not known.
In later sessions, more specific case studies can be selected to illustrate points or to re-energize the participants’ interest in the subject. Additional case study examples can be selectively used to illustrate specific lessons learned as participants explore implementation strategies for their own businesses. This approach would be especially useful for those instructors positioned to provide follow-through technical assistance or consultation to these businesses. Sector-specific case studies sucuh as the "Grown Locally" case study that features a local food system can be used to illustrate examples and provide lessons learned for owners in similar businesses.
Further, lessons learned from one sector can have cross-over applicability to other sectors facing similar situations, so instructors should look for and exploit opportunities to facilitate cross-sector learning. For example, a sector-specific case study, such as one for retail hardware business, may be applicable to many other sectors for its focus on visual representation on the Internet.
Every day, community organizations, government officials, business owners and educators are faced
with the challenge of connecting with their constituents and clientele. Perhaps you are thinking about developing or enhancing your community or institution’s presence on the Internet, but it seems like a daunting task. What kind of presence should you have? Who will manage it? How much time will it take? Who decides what material goes on the site? The potential options are as wide ranging as the reasons or opportunities that might originate from such a venture. Whether your community is seeking to upgrade its existing presence on the World Wide Web, or if you are discussing the concept for the very first time, this course serves as a launching point to learn more about:
- Internet usage trends
- Process of developing a website on a community level
- Types of “community” websites
- Website management (ownership and hosting,
- design, content, construction)
- Effectively marketing your community online
More and more of our communication and social behaviors involve computers and networks. Nonetheless, it is not as simple as it might appear to connect the dots on electronic retail and turn it into a successful venture. This course will help participants learn basics such as:
- how basic virtual business processes work;
- how the supply chain is adapted to the online environment;
- how markets change with consumer age and experience;
- how commerce, content and sense of community interact;
- how to securely manage the daily aspects of electronic retailing;
- how to maintain sense of trust and online ethics.
The course is divided into five sections:
- Module 1 – The Supply Chain
- Module 2 – e-Tailing is about Selling and a Whole Lot More
- Module 3 – How to Sell Online
- Module 4 – Online Technical Issues
- Module 5 – Going Digital
Going Global: A Guide for e-Commerce Expansion is a worksheet driven learning module that seeks to orientate the already e-commerce savvy business owner to the possibility of marketing to foreign based customers. Each step of the learning process allows for a greater understanding into the payoffs and challenges of doing business with clients outside of the United States. Once completed, the learner will have a fundamental knowledge as to how to proceed with global customer expansion and yet remain within a stated business budget and true to a workable business goals timeline.
To be clear, each business goal is reviewed, and a timeline set up that includes budgetary consideration. Once more concise business goals are established, the business owner is then encouraged to pursue intense research in online foreign consumer markets. This begins with a review of current customer orders to determine if an out-of-country interest in the products being offered already exists.
Once potential foreign markets have been identified further research into shipping legalities, address and phone number formatting, time zone changes, and the like are required. Additionally, each learner will want to consider any language barriers that might cause communication problems between merchant and client. Lastly, banking and the processing of payments will need to be fully investigated so that fraud and other potential problems dealing with currency exchange can be avoided.
Finally, with greater understanding of targeted foreign markets, the entrepreneur will then need to make decisions on Web design. These decisions include changes to the ordering process for an efficient shopping experience, the use of wording and the possibility of translation as well as the use of colors and symbols. This learning module requires that each step in the process be given intense attention so as to be aware of details in adding unfamiliar client markets to a business plan, however with some examination and planning the process can become aligned with existing business goals and streamlined into normal business practices.
Creativity is the single most sought-after attribute in the business world today—not surprisingly, since it is unquestionably the driving force behind today’s global economy.
– Harvey Seifter, Director, Creativity Connection, Arts & Business Council
Course Objectives: All of the objectives are intended to strengthen the cultural economy and its contributors—the artisan business by:
- providing artisans with a sense of the importance of the creative economy to which they contribute;
- understanding the changing demographics of consumers of craft and other influences on the craft culture;
- educating artisan business owners on the benefits and limitations of e-commerce;
- developing an understanding of how to maximize the use of the Internet to extend artisan business resources, and locate markets, customers, and networks that can strengthen their businesses;
- applying sound business management best practices in Internet business management; and
- learning best practices related to Web design and management.
Module 1: The Internet and the Manager – This module covers the growth of the Internet, focusing on farm usage of computers and the Internet. It also provides an introduction and short biographies of the five farm business owners who share their experiences in using the Internet to manage their businesses. Learners are introduced to common and useful terminology and get a brief tutorial on performing searches on the Internet.
Module 2: The Internet as a Communications Tool – This module highlights different Internet tools that facilitate communications. Reasons for business communications and their importance to management are addressed. These reasons include sales and marketing, customer service, public relations, professional networking, and internal management of the business. There is also a review of Internet-based options available to farm business managers for communicating. These include Web sites, blogs, email, list managers, multimedia, discussion groups, and chats/instant messaging.
Module 3: Business Planning and Market Research on the Internet – This module provides a brief overview of the business planning process. This includes sections on developing the business's mission statement, performing situation analysis by analyzing the business and the external environment, defining the goals and objectives, and then establishing strategies to reach those goals and objectives. This discussion is followed with ideas on how managers may use the Internet to accomplish these tasks.
Module 4: e-Commerce – This module provides ideas and instructions on how to buy and sell over the Internet. Learners will review how to use their Web site, or other Web sites, to market and sell their products. This includes discussions of online shopping carts, security, and other key issues. Additionally, learners will review how to find and purchase materials over the Internet.
Module 5: Developing & Maintaining Your Own Web site – The fifth module moves from the management issues discussed in Modules 3 and 4 to the more technical issues of developing and maintaining a Web site. Web site development is discussed first, starting with obtaining a Web site domain name then covering the topics of choosing content, designing the site, and choosing a hosting service. As part of the site design section, information on designing a Web site yourself versus hiring someone to design it for you is provided. Throughout the module, the learner will find links to services that may assist with Web site development, tips for choosing service providers, and tips for designing a high-quality Web site. The module also addresses maintenance of a Web site after it has been developed and includes information on monitoring the performance of a Web site and keeping Web site content up to date.
Module 6: Promoting Your Web site – This module addresses many methods that can be employed to promote a farm business's Web site. Promotion techniques include getting registered with and listed by search engines, using banner advertisements, generating media exposure, getting involved with professional organizations, getting listed on other peoples' Web sites, and using product and existing marketing materials as Web site promotion tools.
This learning module is designed for use by grocery store managers and marketers of specialty food products. Whether the food business is large with many employees or a small operation with very specialized sales; all can find some benefit from this self-paced learning module. Due to the fluid nature of information technologies, this is a set of tools designed to help the food manager evaluate the role of that technology in their business, examine the strategies necessary to begin the process of dealing with the technology and weigh out some cost /benefit measures. If the business is already involved in using technology, ideas of how to evolve the existing use of information technology to meet changing business priorities or market demands can also be drawn from this lesson.
Purpose: To prepare Extension educators to develop and implement a program for rural entrepreneurs to strengthen their business competitive advantage by incorporating Experience Economy strategies in their business offerings and establishing or adapting a Web site presence to represent their business.
Goal: Entrepreneurs will discover ways to assess Experience Economy strategies present in a business, use assessment tools to critique their current business, and apply experience-rich features to their business offerings.
- The Experience Economy reflects the expansion of customer expectations to include positive experiences.
- In addition to quality goods and superior customer service, businesses must add value in new ways to differentiate themselves from their competition.
Welcome to Web site basics a primer for Hispanic Small Business brought to you in both English and Spanish. This module was founded in the belief that e-commerce education should be available to Spanish Speaking business owners but also that small business stand to benefit greatly from the patronage of the Spanish speaking consumer. So if you are thinking about the benefits of adding online shopping options in Spanish or if you are a small business with Spanish speaking customers considering the value of adding some form of e-commerce to your existing business plan, this module will assist you.
Bienvenido a los pasos básicos de este sitio Web, una introducción para los dueños de Negocios Hispanos Pequeños que le será presentada en inglés y español. Este módulo se basó en la creencia de que la educación para utilizar el comercio en línea debe estar disponible para los dueños de negocios que hablan español y también porque se cree que hay negocios pequeños que se benefician enormemente del apoyo de consumidores de habla hispana. Si usted esta pensando acerca de los beneficios de agregar opciones de ventas en español, o si usted tiene un negocio pequeño con clientes de habla hispana y esta usted considerando el valor de agregar alguna forma de comercio en línea en su plan de negocios, este módulo lo puede orientar.
Whether you are a one-person business or have multiple employees, understanding why there should be concern about computer and data security, recognizing the threats, and deciding who should be involved in the development of your security plan can determine how successfully the plan will be implemented and maintained. Covered in two four-topic parts, the Security Squad Video Series of nine videos was developed to address the main areas of equipment and data security. The goal of the security plan is not to completely eliminate all risks at whatever cost, but to develop a system that helps to minimize the risks and potential losses to the company and its employees.