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SELLING GOLD ON THE INTERNET
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(November 10, 2001) This week we celebrate the first full year of Onlygold.com’s presence on the Internet’s search engines. Here we explain how we first came to believe that people would send substantial sums of real money to some address on an Internet site. It didn't hurt that our debut coincided with a shaky stock market, sinking interest rates, and some of the cheapest inflation-adjusted gold prices that have been seen in decades.
Onlygold.com was first launched in November of 1998 to make gold portfolios accessible to private clients of financial planners who recommended gold holdings. This website was designed and built as an attempt to answer questions about gold bullion for those clients – in essence, to replace, or at least shorten, the face-to-face question-and-answer “mini-seminars” that we presented for these clients.

Our experience with these clients over the years was:

- Everyone purchasing gold for financial reasons has a few questions about gold.

- There is a finite set of questions (the “99 Questions about Gold Ownership”) that come up again and again.

- There has to be a way to systematically answer the questions about gold bullion ownership that the typical U.S. citizen brings to the table when he or she is buying gold.

Although no one on our staff is any sort of technophile, it became increasingly obvious in the late 1990’s that the Internet provided the ideal medium to present the mini-seminar on gold that we had been sharing with our clients for years. Gold ownership is not very well understood by most people in the U.S. – but the questions most people have about gold don’t need a rocket scientist to answer them. The just needed a source of basic information born of experience in the gold bullion markets.

People need certain information necessary to make their own decisions about their own best form of gold holding. And that’s what Onlygold.com was built to do: inform people of their choices, and provide user-accessible pricing of those choices through a market-driven database that displays buy and sell prices for all the popularly traded forms of gold bullion, with quantity discounts clearly displayed.

As an information and marketing tool for our gold portfolio business, Onlygold.com was designed to reflect our principles of fair dealings, straight answers, and standardized discounts for quantity purchases. In a nutshell, our goal has been to make the basics of gold ownership understandable, and make the acquisition of gold an easy process.

The big question for us was, would people who didn’t know our firm via referral or repeat business do business with us on the strength of our website itself?

Of course, the world of E-commerce is becoming more and more familiar to most of us. Most of us start out by purchasing a book, compact disc, or inexpensive collectible from another party over the Internet.

But how big a transaction are we willing to do with a firm we only know from the Internet? For many of us, it’s a big leap to spend a few hundred dollars with an Internet entity, much less thousands of dollars. How likely is it that a website that asks for a minimum purchase of around $3,000 would stand a chance of succeeding?

So we knew from the start that there would be reluctance among many people to buy gold from some company they found on the Internet. But on the other hand, we also knew that gold bullion purchases are difficult for most people, for reasons including the following:

-Most people don’t live near a well-stocked and adequately capitalized gold bullion firm.

-If they do, a gold bullion transaction can take the good part of a business day to accomplish. And often it involves going to the local “coin shop,” a place which often has an image, appearance, and staff that leave a lot to be desired.

-Most local firms don’t offer the full range of bullion products and don’t have the time to acquaint someone with the possible choices. These dealers are basically traders who don’t have the time or inclination to help first-time or inexperienced gold buyers.

-For privacy and security reasons, many people don’t want to purchase gold locally.

-Many states and municipalities impose a sales tax on bullion purchases.

-The larger national coin and bullion companies (such as advertise in financial publications, using an 800- number that connects you to a commission salesperson) would rather push the more lucrative sales of numismatic coins while discouraging low-margin bullion sales.

In total, the barriers to simple, efficient, sales-tax-free gold bullion transactions were so substantial for most people that we felt that making Onlygold.com public was worth the effort. It was time to simplify gold make it accessible on the Internet.

So about a year ago, we made the resources, knowledge, and prices of our firm accessible to everyone who explores the Internet. At that time, Bob Milburn, our very capable webmaster, took steps to make our site more visible to the thousands of search engines that crawl the World Wide Web, indexing information and making that information accessible to users of the Web.

I could go into the various ways that a site’s pages get indexed, but frankly I find it pretty boring stuff. But the “net” result (pun intended) is, if you search on a gold bullion related phrase with most search engines, you will find our site among the top few choices. In January of 2001, we had fewer than 100 visitors to our site each day – in October, we averaged nearly 2,000 unique visitors every day. People are finding us, monitoring prices and markets with us, and ultimately, doing business with us.

We offer here some unsolicited opinions. If you’re happy with our site, or more importantly, you are happy with your order and the way it was handled, please write or send an email to us and let us know. We are considering opening a references page for prospective customers. All business you do with us is confidential, of course, but we would appreciate the chance to post your experiences or comments, while keeping you anonymous.

A sample so far:

“I appreciate your comments on the gold market. Actually, your site appears to be one of the few places to obtain such information, let alone information not debased with political bias.”

“I just wanted to “Thank You” for your articles pertaining to collecting so called rare coin scam. I was almost a victim of this scam and your article could not have come at a better time. I received a call from _______(a large national gold firm) saying they could take $5,000 of my money and invest it for me in rare coins and I would receive at least triple this over time. So once again, many, many thanks to you and your staff.”

“Ditto to everything you said in your gold conspiracy article. I wish these… paranoids would just shut up while gold is cheap and I’m accumulating it at these bargain prices.”

“Easy to get around (the website) and lots of information…”

“I appreciate the layout and easy navigation on your site…”

“Thanks for the quick shipping, but our mailman was surprised. I don’t think he had ever carried such a heavy package.” (a $72,000 order.)

“Cathy was very helpful and we are delighted with the beautiful gold coins.”

“Thank you for the prompt delivery. My wife was skeptical, but she loves the coins. My next order is for the grandkids…”

“In April, I purchased a large order of gold with you, and I’ve yet to receive a solicitation from your company for further business. Now I have a CD maturing next week, and it’s time to buy gold again…”

“Dealing with your company is always a pleasure, and never a hard sell. I wish you the best.”

 

Onlygold.Com BBB Business Review

Onlygold did business at the same location for more than sixteen years. CMI Gold & Silver Inc. has done business from three locations in Phoenix since 1973.

Both firms are Accredited Businesses with the Better Business Bureau, and neither firm has had a complaint filed with the BBB—ever!

In addition to gold, silver, platinum, and palladium in coin and bullion form, we also purchase a wide range of numismatic coins and currency for our retail business. Feel free to call us for quotes or price indications on anything in coins, bullion, and paper money.

We have really strong bids for gold and silver bullion and coins.

OnlyGold.com is owned & published by CMI Gold & Silver Inc. Copyright – CMI Gold & Silver Inc. All rights reserved.

All checks, shipments, and correspondence should be sent to:

CMIGS-Onlygold 3800 N. Central Avenue, 11th Floor, Phoenix, AZ 85012