30. All about e-mails
People who are connected to the Internet can send and receive electronic messages - the equivalent of letters on the Internet.
These electronic messages are called e-mails - and they are an important tool in e-commerce.
You will need an e-mail address so customers can contact you via their computers and to receive orders. It may look like this: firstname.lastname@example.org (the @ is pronounced like 'at').
You can then use e-mails to answer customer inquiries and accept orders. Special software on your computer called an e-mail program makes this easy. Your ISP will help you set this up.
E-mails are sent and received almost instantly - and cost much less than a telephone call or postage.
Once you have arranged your e-mail address, it will be just as important as your business name, address and telephone number - and should be promoted as such.
While some people will still want to contact you the traditional way - over the telephone, by facsimile or through the old-fashioned 'snail mail' - most people on the Internet now prefer to send e-mails.
If possible, you should have control over your e-mail address, as the address given to you by your ISP is controlled by the ISP - if you move, you can't take it with you. There are companies on the Internet such as Hotmail (www.hotmail.com) , which make this possible. However an email address based on your own business name looks the most professional. You will find more details on this in the chapter on Internet addresses.