Frequently asked questions of online sales (for beginners)


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These are the questions and answers for the one who just starts online business. Even they have opened the online shops, but the business goes very irregular. It is the time to know what has happen to the sales clearly. In addition, in the early stage, the owners can be bolder; they can be more creative in creating styles, taking the picture and writing the text. They should try to taste the market and find the original point of their products.

Q1: I am still an office worker, I never sale anything online. Am I able to open an online shop?
A: It is better for you to try to buy some things from different online platforms. Firstly, you have to know what kind of problems you may experience when you buy and how sellers deal with these problems.

Q2: If I never sell anything online, I should not open an online shop directly, shouldn’t I?
A: If you already own an “entity shop”, you can open an online shop directly, but first of all, you still have to be very clear about the online shopping flow, or you should find assistants who have idea about online sales to help you manage the shop.

Q3: Should I dedicate to do online business full-time?
A: It is better to start it as part-time work. If you find “tricks” and feel great interest about that, then you can decide whether you want to do it with all you efforts or not.

Q4: If the products I sell cannot be purchased directly, I should not open online shop, should I?
A: Besides selling products, online shop always brings advertising effect. Some products are custom-made or very expensive and the deals cannot be made online. Although online shop doesn’t support directly transaction in this case, the advertising effect it brings is still very great.

Q5: What are the intrinsic requirements of online shops?
A; Online shop is a 24 hours shopping tools. The business is non-stop, but this also means the working hour will be very long, and the work can be complicated and trivial. Therefore only the one has not only great passion on E-business but also the great patient towards the inpatient online customers can run the business well in the end.

Q6: If I don’t want to open the shop on online platform, can I make my own website to sell products?
A: Better not. Same as in the real world, it is better for you to open the shop in the place which has great crowd. Although most of the online platforms charge money, it fulfilled the purpose of “gathering people”. It is more difficult for the independent website which has low expose rate, low popularity to earn money at first place.

Q7: How much I should prepare as the initial capital?
A: The sum of initial capital is related to the product you sell. The owner can refer to your “half year running and store up expense” as the standard.

Q8: What kinds of product suitable to sell online?
A: The products which is difficult to find in the market. Although online market grows 30% every year, the competition among the popular products is very fierce. The shop can only find the ground to stand unless the products are special and price is reasonable. Therefore developing new type of products is the way to brings more chance to win.

Q9: Is it still a good idea to sell ready-made clothes or products?
A: In recent year, really-made products business is not as good as before, because the competition is great. In this case, the business is always involved in price war. Even the sales goes very well, the profit is still very low. But it doesn’t mean there is no way to do it, there are still new shops which try very unique way in combination achieve great success. It is because they create the new value of the really-made clothes.

Q10: which kinds of product have the highest profit?
The same as in the entity world, the products which is creative and unique or hand-made have high profit. But the atmosphere of online market is still more like a parity market. It is difficult for the customers to make the orders just through few photos and texts. The acceptable price for own created brand in online market normally is below 1,000 dollars.

Q11: Does selling foreign products have high return on online?
A: This is a very subtle situation. If certain foreign product is very popular in e-market, that means the demand is great, but it will also lead to price war. If owners develop new products, then it needs to expand the popularity of the products, the time to earn profit may be delayed and risk is higher. However the profit will be good and this business can last longer as well. Therefore we need to evaluate the situation according to the market of individual products.

Q12: How to set the price?
A: Because the price of each product is clearly revealed on the sales pages, through searching and comparison, it is not difficult for the owner to know the average price in the market. According to the fact that an online sale has saved the store management cost, product price should be 10%-30% cheaper than that in the entity market.

Q13: How should I take the picture of the product?
A: In the early stage, owner should try best to save the cost; the main standard for the photos should be “clear in detail, lightness is appropriate”. It is not necessary to use professional camera in this case. When the business grows bigger, when more details are needed to be shown in the photos, then you should consider changing to professional equipments. But, the premise is the one use it must be professional as well, or it may look even worse.

Q14; Do I need to hire model to take picture?
A: When the amount of the products is not that much, you can just find some friends which look good as your models. One famous online model once said:” The best model for online business is the one just looks like your neighbors, people feel trustworthy to see this kind of faces.” If the amount is great, using professional model can help to reduce the time to take photos and make the work become more effective.

Q15: Is the online customer service is the same as that in entity shop?
A: You can say it is the same, you can also say it is different. Basically, to be nice and kind is very important. Moreover, because the most common online communication is sending text messages, your way of expression has to be gentler. It is important to do the emotion communication (for example, using the symbol like “:)” to get them feel your kindness) when you face your online customers.

Q16: How to do free sales?
A: You can do it through joining the activities your platform provided, joining more forums and participate the discussion actively. It is better for you to set your signature as your web address.

Q17: How to write the title to let the products to be found more easily?
A: Use “hot key word” in product title. Pay attention to the hot key word in this products category. Also you can search good product keyword from some top-ranked website and then put them into the product title skillfully.

Q18: How to do blog sales?
A: Blog is also a very popular sales channel. One method is to discuss your own products and tell your brand or products story. Other way is to attract the fans or users of certain products through providing the related knowledge of the products.

Q19: Is that worthy to buy charged advertisement?
A: When goods supply and sales are not stable, it is better not to buy long term advertisement, but you can try as short term sales.

Q20: Can I avoid paying the platform trade fee?
A: You should not avoid it or you will lose the guarantee of your trade and the risk of having dispute will increase. If you want to keep your business longer, it is better for you to provide the true trade fee information to the platforms.

If you feel difficult to manage online business by yourself, you can always find the related services even the agents since e-business has development so well in recent year. But it is better for you yourself operate the business for a while to have some basic ideals first.

Edited By Vicky Yin

Digg Founder launched Twitter user-generated directory


E-Business News, Web 2.0 Design
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we follow

As the founder of Digg, Kevin Pose has been known for his great passion towards micro-blog. Before Twitter, which has millions followers in the web world, he also used to be founder of Pownce, a website which has very similar function as Digg. Although Powence has closed now, but Kevin’s zeal towards micro-blog didn’t change, recently, he launched Twitter user-generated directory site named Wefollow (http://wefollow.com/).

Do you want to join Wefollow through your Twitter ID? It is simple, you just need to send a message to @wefollow with three self-describe labels (such as blog, music, baseball), your ID will be listed in Wefollow user database immediately. On Wefollow site, you can find the topics you are interested very easily, and you can also find out the Twitter ID which has most followers. It is like a social-media human power database.

Edited By Vicky Yin

Google entered Twitter World, 35 thousands users following


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Twitter is more and more popular in the web world now. Micro-blogging has graduately become the mainstream of online writing. Lots of companies even start to use Twitter to do their business or provide services to the customers. One of the successful examples is Dell computer. Now Google also start to catch up this trend and open their Twitter account. Only within few days, more than 30 thousands people followed up. This partly reveals the how popular Google is, but on the other side, it also shows how hot Twitter is now.

Google\'s twitter Account

To Google, this Twitter account mainly will be used to post the company news and software update information. Users can subscribe or follow up the latest news if they feel interested about it. The interesting thing is the first message Google post in Twitter is very special. Do you get the following message? “I’m 01100110 01100101 01100101 01101100 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01101100 01110101 01100011 01101011 01111001 00001010″, it means “I’m feeling lucky”.

Besides Google account, all the services under Google, such as Youtube, Google Reader, Blogger, Google Apps and so on, will open their Twitter account one by one as well. Now the question media interest about is whether Google will consider merging Twitter in the future.

Edited By Vicky Yin

The puzzling question about online sales


E-Business Development, SEO
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Nowadays there are so many sales consultants in the market; all of them promised that they can help you start the online business. They can help you to choose the business areas, make very precise products and service segmentations, write the brand story even do the media and public relation for you. Actually all these works are very essential. However if you are lack of traffic this key, all the efforts you put at the beginning will just go in vain.

Then how can we gain the traffic? This is really a puzzling question. I am sure that lots of sales consultants themselves can not really answer this question properly. Although I have been in this industry for so long, I am not able to give a 100% right answer either. But I would like to share some experience I gain through all the failures and lessons. I wish at least I can give some general ideas about this issue:

There is no free traffic in the market

To gain traffic without cost is impossible, if there were, Yahoo would not be able to earn so much. How much sales expense online companies need to prepare for gaining traffic? According to many online business owners’ experience, if the main profit of your company is from online sales then you better prepare 10%-20% of your turnover to boost traffic. If your company just starts the online business and you have no previous turnover to estimate the budget, then you can use another calculation way: if your advertising material is good enough, the website is professional enough and can reach your target group successfully then, every dollar you invest may bring 5-6 times profit. Of course, the greater your sales ability is, the higher is your product price and trade –in rate and lower is the percentage of sale cost in your whole turnover, and better is your adverting effect.

There is no company has the same sales strategy. There are many sales tools you can use. Company should make the choice according to their own budget, target customers, inner capability and business channel. Currently the popular sales tools include:

Traditional sales tool:
• Television
• Newspaper
• Magazine
• Public actives

Online sales tools:
• Online banner
• Text link
• Key word
• Blog / forum
• Traffic exchange / cooperate with other industry

Companies should decide the sales tools according to the percentage of their turnover and the future business plan. If 100% of your orders are from internet then definitely most of advertising budget should put into developing online sales tools. If your business runs mainly through entity market but you also want 1/3 of your future sales can be made through the website, then you should spend 1/3 of your sales budget to the web market. Sometime you can also see many e-companies use entity sales tools such as television advertisement and newspaper advertisement to promote their business; however this should be done when the companies grow into certain scales. They also need to build their brand image in the internet as well.

Normally the biggest question for most online companies is which online sales tools are most effective. Here I will analyse each of them one by one:

1. Online banner
This kind of advertisement has the highest click rate; because they give customers direct visual stimulation and arouse customers’ peep desire. However this kind of advertisement is most expensive. For example, if you want to promote something in large scale on Yahoo, you need to prepare around 15 thousands USD for two weeks online banner. If the preparation does well, making long-term banners will help the company grow steadily. But if the preparation is not enough, the activity you promote is not attractive enough, and then your advertisement expense may just go in vain. There are some key points for you to make online banner: good promotion return rate, precise advertisement and there is incentive factor in your website to attract the orders.

2. text links
On Yahoo home page and four corners of each page, you can see many short sentences attract people to click in. This is text links. Normally text link helps to enhance the impression but the average click rate is lower than Banner. If there is someone talented in word in the company, and he is able to use the limited word to precisely attract people’s attention, then the click rate can also reach very high level. Among all kinds of advertising, the cost of text link is still considered as reasonable. To make an effective text link may cost 10 thousands USD per month.

3. Key word
This is one of the hottest sales tools in recent years. But I have some different opinions: if you own an e-market, or you own various products, key word will be a very good sales tool. But if you don’t have that much products or you wish to build up new brand or promote diverse brands, then the effect of keyword may disappoint you. If you provide unified services such as selling boxes, moving, fixing computers and so on, keyword will be the cheapest sales tools for you.

If these 3 sale tools don’t fit your budget or business types, you can use some hard but very cheap way to do sales.

1. Blog: Set up a blog and reveal your professional areas in your Blog. At the same time you can post your ideas on others Blogs or communicate with others through Blogs to build up your reputation graduately.

2. Forum: Be a frequent visitor to forum. Discuss the issues in your fields, and let yourself be the topic people discuss about.

3. Cooperate with other industry: Exchange the banner with other websites which have similar traffics or exchange the printed ventures to give to each other’s customers. It also includes provide other small sites or Blogs your banner for them to help boost your traffic. If the deal is done, then you can pay them certain amount of hire charge. It is not difficult to set the system, but the biggest difficulties may be finding the partners to cooperate.

These 3 sale tools are much cheaper than the former tools, but they consume lots of time and efforts. If you have lots of time, it can also be a good way to challenge yourself.

Edited By Vicky Yin

Doing Online Sales with Blog


E-Business Development, SEO, Web 2.0 Design
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Now blog has become more and more important in online sales. Many companies and online business owners have achieved great success through using the blog well. There are uncountable examples you can hear about that.

Then, what are the good things blog can bring to sales? Actually blog can fulfill all the following purposes AT ONCE.

1. Improve search engine ranking
If you use the key words, hyperlinks skillfully, and update the articles regularly, then surely you can increase the media exposure on some main search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, and ultimately improve your ranking.

2. Save sales cost
You can reduce your expense on traditional sales methods, like making advertisement, finding sponsors.

3. More closer to the potential clients
One of the most essential things for the future growing of the company is to locate the potential customers who are not easy to access. However, a dynamic, opened, and rich blog can reach the potential clients using the method, which is irreplaceable for the other tools, easily.

4. Be the evidence for company to use in making sales decision
Blog can receive customers’ responses and market information at the first moment and help the company to make the right business decision based on highly accurate information.

5. Grow brand loyalty among your customers
Blog can help the clients and business mates to know the company movements; this is the best way to allow the clients to keep their motivation to communicate with the company.

6. Grow your volunteer promoters
Every reader visit your blog are doing this by his own will. They are willing to interact with your business and grain more information from your blog. This powerful method of communication can grow a group of people who are willing to promote your company and your products.

7. More effective marketing survey and product testing tools:
One of the reasons why blog became more and more popular in online business is that it can change marketing survey and products testing tools into one-to-one interacted communication.

On your blog, you can not only post the articles introduce your products and business, but also your reflections, the stories of the company, the sharing of your administration experience, even the reviews of the movie you like.

You don’t need to worry about that your blog is not “commercial” enough, the benefit it will bring to you can be more than the “practical reasons” we mentioned before: it helps you to expand your society circle, let you have chance to learn from your seniors and even built your company image and create the company culture…

When blog truly enter into your life, when no matter you open the computer, firstly you will check blog traffic and new comments then we can say an important seed of online sales has truly been put into your heart, and this small seed may grow into a big tree with great fruit in the future.

Edited By Vicky Yin

How to use Blog to earn money


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Actually it is really an old topic about how to use Blog to earn money. There are so many experts discussed about it and they even published books to give the solutions. However I still want to share some my own experience and wish it will give some helps.

Recently I saw a blog value list which is made by a blog observing survey. In this list, blog value is estimated by three indexes, link value, advertising value and article value. In my point of view, using these three indexes to estimate blog value is very precise. Now I will try to explain these three indexes one by one:

Blog article value index

Most new blogs in the first year are still unknown to the web users; if their traffic can reach 1 millions pv then it is already good enough. However, with this traffic, it is still very far away from entering the advertising market. The possible income for blogs in this stage is article license fee. If the articles in the blogs can be purchased by MSN or other bigger websites, the blogs will not just earn money but also let more target people know their blogs. The writers may also have the chance to be invited to open their own columns and sell the articles.

Simply say, if the blogs has won some reputation in their specific field, the profit from making the lecture, opening the column, publishing the books even the consultant’s fee should be counted as the blog article value. I believe this is the most realistic way to get real profit for normal blogs.

Blog link value index

In my Opinion, blogs suppose to receive highest rewards in this part but the reality is blogs always earn the least in this item among all. If blogs develop very well and are recognized by SEO company by high Page Rank value and great traffic (these two items have to time together to have high SEO effect), then they may be willing to pay to the blogs to link with their blog keywords. Although it is better than none, this income is still much lower than web master’s expectation.

In recent years, Google search engine do gives Blog product higher rank, and some well managed blogs start to have the chance to earn more though selling SEO product, even writing praise articles. For example, the blog which has good page rank post an article praising certain product, when users search this key word they may see this article, and then accept the product because they agree with the article.

This product has combined the article value, advertising value and link value, but the key point is about link value. Without considering the moral issue, this is the very unique product blogs can provide; therefore it supposes to bring more income to blogs.

Blog advertising value:

Even the blogs are developed very well, but it is still very hard to enter the “advertiser- media agent- media” value chain. The reason is very simple but also very critical, because blogs still cannot be counted as streamline media.

Therefore the most difficult part for blogs in creating its value is to let the advertiser buy the banner advertisement directly. Most of the blogs cannot get enough advertisements at the beginning; it may take them few years to really enter the mainstream value chain if they keep striving.

How to enter the mainstream value chain? Actually I cannot tell the answer. The only two clues I know so far are 1. Change to web media site through blog and then enter the mainstream 2. Find good salesmen.

In mainstream value chain, when people mentioned about blogs, naturally they get the impression of an unknown small website with BSP service. A single blog cannot avoid to be underestimated in this situation. Therefore, most webmasters have to introduce their websites as “the web media established based on blog”, or it will be very difficult for them to take the second step. The fact that blog sounds very “cheap” in mainstream value chain, is something really sad.

Then you need to find salesmen who are very familiar with the traditional mainstream value chain and let him use the way which is acceptable for traditional mainstream value chain to introduce the websites and present the powerful advertising effectiveness data , then the websites may have chance to enter the mainstream advertising market.

But it is difficult for a single blog get a salesman. If there are capable salesmen who don’t willing to under the rule of certain companies but wanting to set their own business, they can try to contact some top blogs, and form an assembly, then directly sell the advertisement to the advertisers and agencies. Surely this will be a good business and benefit both sides.

Last but not the least, there is one thing I have to mention, blogs still have to balance these three value indexes. The intensive information blogs have to lower down their page rank index. Because these blogs are very familiar with the characteristics of internet, they always have very good page rank, and the articles on this kind of blogs are very enough to be recognized by the web users in this certain field, their article value will also be very high, but this doesn’t means they will have same advertising value.

Edited By Vicky Yin

Dining, Hospital, School, experts recommend these 3 industry to build their own business blog.


E-Business Development, Web 2.0 Design
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Business Blogs are suitable for almost every industry. For example: CEO Blog, which talks about management concept or previous successful projects of company etc. Promotion Blog, which is suitable during the sale season and also Staff Blog, which is for company staffs to discuss current projects and improve the internal communication. There are 3 industries we strongly recommend to build their Blogs:

Blog for dining industry

For the restaurants, coffee shop, and take away shop etc. From the background design, font and images, the style of Blog should match the shop; hence the customers can have the same feeling inside the shop as browsing the Blog. The Shop owner should be the Webmaster and can catalogs articles into following sections to share with customers.

1. Recipes: Recipes research and creation etc..

2. Customers: News of customers

3. Staffs: Brief introduction of this month’s best employee etc…

4. Shop Decoration: Introduce of shop’s style, interior design and background music etc…

5. Holiday activity: Any special activity for Xmas, mothers days etc…

6. Special events: wedding days, company party etc..

7. Voucher download: Promotion voucher downloads.

The Blog editor should write articles focus on the shop and don’t mix too much with personal feeling. Shop owner can also find a professional copy-writer to write the interesting articles to promote the business image.

Blog for Hospital

Commercial advisement is not a good idea for Hospital, but How about Blog? In the Blog, Doctors can share their professional ideas and experience with their patients. The webmaster can catalogue the articles according to each department. For example: articles for internal medicine, surgery, ophthalmology, dermatology etc.. And each department doctors can regularly upload theirs articles on Blog. The articles needed to be understood easily by patients and according to news, doctors can upload articles which discuss current health issue, for example: miscarriage caused by smoking. Hence the Blog can build a closer relation between doctors and patients and improve hospital’s professionalism and reputation.

Blog for School

Many schools and universities already start use the Blog to communicate with their students. For example: Language school can use Blog with interesting topics to attract students to read, which is different from the traditional teaching method. Teachers can write any articles related to daily-life to teach students the common language skills. And through the interaction from online chatting, videos conference and forums, students will be more interested to participate and improve their learning ability.

Back to main topic, why business needs website? Because website is good tool for marketing, image and touch. And why these 3 industries need blogs? Because Blog is good for interaction, RSS, SEO and Cost. Blog is more flexible then traditional website, and still there is great development potential for industry Blog. There are many different way to develop an excellent Blog, and two Golden rules are honesty and persistence.

Edited By Henry Lu

How do the enterprises use Web 2.0?


Web 2.0 Design
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According to a recent mass Survey, three fourths of the business managers said that they plan to maintain or increase their investment on the technologies which encourage the users to involve more in interaction, such as P2P network, Social network and Web Services.

Although there are still some interviewees in this survey mentioned that their capability in using web technologies hasn’t improve much, but more than half of the interviewees felt satisfied with the result of their past investment on web; there are more interviewees even think that they should take their actions earlier.

 

The benefit of sharing new technologies in emerging market

The retailers used to regard themselves as prudent investors now have already accelerated in investing on new technologies. Yet again, many business managers in the emerging markets, such as business from India and Latin America have tried to speed up to share the benefits brought by these new technologies.

When the web users-led online services like, MySpace, Wikipedia, YouTube has become more and more popular, these technologies called Web 2.0 technology has stepped into limelight. The technologies which need the users to participate together, include Web Service, P2P network, Blogs, Podcasts, Online community, etc.

A recent survey indicated that the interviewees generally show great interested in this trend. Besides the fact that the interviewees fully satisfied with the result of their investment on web itself, they also recognized the great market value of Web 2.0 technology; therefore they plan to increase the investment on developing this technology. However, these companies won’t only focus on the wide-known web 2.0 product such as blogs. Their greatest attention is on the technologies which will enhance the automation and networking.

Half of the interviewees felt satisfied with the result of the investment on web technologies

More than half of the interviewees felt satisfied with the result of their past 5 years investment on developing web technologies. More than three fourths planed to maintain or increase their investment on improving their Web 2.0 technology. (Only 13% of the interviewees felt disappointed with result of past investment. )

Generally, the companies which has taken earlier actions (known as early adopters, and fast followers) in the last investment trend has higher level of satisfaction with their investment than the companies started latter. This result matches the “speed first” ideal in technologies investment.

strong>80% interviewees considered to use web service

More than three fourths business managers who have the ideas of the 9 different Web 2.0 related technologies mentioned in this survey stated that their companies had invested more than one of them. The most popular one is Web Service, 80% the managers who know this technology have or are considering using Web Service, P2P net work is also very popular, 84% managers said they have or are considering using it.

Using Web 2.0 technologies to communicate with the clients and business partners

Many business managers indicated that they will use Web 2.0 Technologies to communicate with the clients and business partners and improve the cooperation within the company. 70% of the interviewees mentioned that they will assist with these technologies to keep in touch with their clines. For example, around 20% interviewees have used Blog to collect the opinions from their customers and strengthen their custom services.

The interviewees also mentioned that in order to have better communication with their business partners and connect with the suppliers more closely; the company will use the web technologies like, Web Service, P2P, Collective Intelligence and Really Simple Syndication(RSS) in the future. These technologies will also help the company in intelligent management.

Last but not the least; through the interview with these business managers, it has been found that the technologies which will bring benefits on automation and cooperation have received much more attentions than those “famous” technologies. Compare with Blog, Podcast and Mash-up, the technologies which can collect ideas and knowledge from more people, or make the communication and information exchange more effective are more helpful to them.

What are in Web 2.0?

Blog, the contraction of the term “Web log”, is a personal online notes or diaries that is frequently updated and intended for general public consumption. It can be linked to the other website and used by RSS (Really Simple Syndication) user.

Collective Intelligence is a system which tried to gain not the personal knowledge but team intelligence and use this as the basis of decision. The technologies involved in Collective Intelligence includes cooperative publish and sharing database.

Match-up is the service combines different online resources to create new products. For example, people can use one program to search and list certain type of restaurants and then combine this list with Google map to indicate the location of these restaurants.

P2P network is a quick sharing files (music, video or word files) technology. It helps the users to transfer the files by more than one computer through World Wide Web or certain closed net work. Some systems can collect the fragments from different computers and recompose them to get the complete files.

Podcast is a series of audio or video digital-media files which is distributed over the Internet by syndicated download, through Web feeds. The best example is YouTube.

RSS is the technology allows users to subscript news, blogs and podcast or other information.

Online community is the system helps the members of certain website to get the information of each other’s interests, talent, knowledge or habits; Facebook and Linkedin are the examples of this technology.

Web Service can improve the communication between two different systems; it can transfer the documents automatically and process the job ordering. The retailer can communicate online with their suppliers through Web Service and update the storage system automatically.

Wiki, like Wikipedia is the system makes cooperative publish become real, many authors to contribute their articles through this system and participate in discussion.

Edited By Vicky Yin

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