In today's market it's not enough to rely on 'word-of-mounth,' or print advertising to drive sales for your business.

Within the last year, the drilling population on the Web has increased considerably. There are no statistics available to pinpoint actual numbers of drilling-related surfers. But, by monitoring several of the more popular drilling site's hit counters, it has been noticed that each year hits are increasing. Perhaps the year 2001 will be a record-breaking year and drillers and drilling equipment suppliers will form a community on the Web.

Many drilling equipment suppliers now have Websites. How successful are these Websites? The answer would have to come from the suppliers. Today, most drilling equipment Website owners are still not pleased with results of their Websites. Most will tell you their site has produced new clients. But very few will state their site could be classified as an e-commerce site--in fact, more will state their site is a cost rather than an asset. Why is sale of drilling equipment lagging behind on the Web?

To sell equipment (or anything else) on the Web, it requires traffic and there are not enough drilling equipment buyers surfing the Web yet. Most smaller and family-owned drilling companies are not using the Web.

Business has always been conducted the same way, without too many variations from older methods of doing business--the use of telephones, mail, and 'word-of-mouth' for communications and advertising. This claim is not hard to back up when reviewing some of the associations' membership list, only 60 percent of members have a fax number and less than five percent have an e-mail address. There are still unbelievers in this new world!

The disadvantage of not being a believer is one day the catching up will have to start. Then the learning curve will be much steeper, and more knowledge will have to be gained. This could all be transferred to dollars, if time is worth money.

If drilling time is worth money? Then 'the believer' is making money from his or her knowledge of the information highway. If an operator has to close his drill down to run errands such as visiting the bank, paying bills, ordering supplies and consumables, the time taken costs money. If an operator is knowledgeable about the Web, all these things can be done, after drilling hours, at home on the Web.

Drilling supplies Website stores are not a very strong item on the Web today. There are many drilling supply Websites but these are generally in the older style Web and pre e-commerce days where advertising on the Web of products and items stocked included only an e-mail link to send an order if one would like to purchase something.

The big trend today on the Web is to add a virtual store to the Website. This automated software-driven store completes all transactions, other than shipping the purchase. As the customer browses items in the store, by clicking the mouse, the item is placed into the shopping basket. On completion of the shopping trip, click on the 'check-out-counter' and all purchases will be totaled as if the shopper had gone through the 'check-out-counter' in the local department store.

The software will collect the money, using credit cards, electronic checks, or charge to an account. To complete the transaction, an e-mail is sent to the storekeeper regarding the sale and shipping information.

In today's market it's not enough to rely on 'word-of-mouth,' or print advertising to drive sales for your business. With the proper e-commerce Website, your business can generate sales and leads 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, without having to hire additional employees or staying up all night working. An on-line store, coupled with proper marketing, can turn a local business into an international company. The Internet has opened up the world to all your prospective customers.

One of the fears that held back e-commerce was sending confidential information over the wires. This has been overcome by usage of secure servers. All sensitive data can be encrypted with SSL prior to transmission including order information during the customer ordering process and subsequently during order processing. Multiple layers of login permissions allow a centralized manager to grant store level permissions to different developers and merchants.

The days of the virtual stores are here!