AUSTIN -- Heroes and Legacies hopes that Internet commerce is
than just blowing smoke.
Like many small businesses, the Austin-based cigar seller has
launched a World Wide Web site in hopes of generating sales over the
The company, which markets several hundred cigars and tobacco
products from 11 countries, has been generating only about a half-
dozen orders a week from the Web site. But Manager Juan Barajas is
enthused about its chances for much higher sales.
"I think it's going to make money, but we're not there yet,"
Heroes and Legacies is interested in tapping the 67 million
potential customers using the Internet.
According to Tom Fornoff, vice president of corporate marketing of
IntelliQuest, an Austin-based computer industry marketing research
company, the number of people on the Web is expected to continue to
grow, reaching 110 million users in another two years.
Fornoff says while there are lots of folks on the Internet, there
are far fewer buying products online -- only 13 million, or 20
percent. Those buying are now spending an average of $100 a month,
but that will more than double in three years, predicts Fornoff, the
keynote speaker at the first Electronic Commerce Seminar.
One of the big attractions of the Net is the quick exposure to
millions of potential customers. A small company with limited
capital can reach out to a much broader audience than it usually
A Web site not only offers the opportunity to attract new
customers, but it also provides a way for established businesses to
protect their established customer base, Fornoff says. He says
small- business owners also must consider what will happen if their
customers become comfortable buying online and their company doesn't
have a site.
Much like when an interstate goes into a small town and traffic
changes, he says, businesses must weigh what happens if their
customers start going to another company that's online.
"Will you open up a new `store' and protect your business?" he
says. "Whether you open a store or not, a competitor will open one
on the Web."
Fornoff says small companies considering the expense of building
and maintaining a Web site need to give the same commitment to it as
they would if they were building another store.
"I think the cost may be dramatically less than opening a bricks
and mortar store. But the same commitment has to be there or
greater," he says.
Jo Betsy Vaught, executive producer of interactive services with
SicolaMartin, an Austin marketing and advertising company, says a
company must give their Web site visibility by putting it in their
other advertising and on all company materials -- on voice mail,
business cards, direct mail flyers and sales receipts. …