The Future of E-Commerce
THE FUTURE OF E-COMMERCE
There are varying opinions regarding the future of e-commerce. Despite the fact that online sales are growing exponentially, some analysts believe that e-commerce is heading for a fall. Laurie Windham justifies her belief that as time goes on, sales will decrease instead of increasing.
Windham believes that net consumers are very different than mall shoppers and catalog shoppers. Furthermore, she says that dot-coms are responsible for ruining their own chances to sell because they have spoiled customers to the point that consumers expect cheap prices and freebies and if they don’t get them, they just move on to another site. E-commerce, Windham says, is a fickle world with little, if any, customer loyalty (Fortune, 2000).
Windham found some interesting differences between online shoppers and traditional shoppers. For instance, 34 percent of online shoppers describe themselves as comparison shoppers but only 8 percent of traditional shoppers describe themselves as comparison shoppers. Another comparison is that only 1 percent of Web shoppers say they hate stores but 10 percent of traditional shoppers
say they hate stores (Fortune, 2000). Web shoppers are by and large comparison, price-sensitive consumers.
Windham, who spent two years studying the consumers who purchase online, said that as nonusers begin to use the Web for purchasing, they will be less adventuresome than people already making purchases online. They will also be slightly older than the norm and they will be more fearful and cautious about privacy and security. In other words, as nonusers begin using the Web to shop, they will be a more conservative group than current users. It is probable they will also be less fickle and more loyal to brands/stores (Fortune, 2000).
Windham pointed out that there were numerous problems with people receiving exactly what they ordered online during last holiday season. Based on that, she suggested sales may be lower this year (Fortune, 2000). Surveys conducted after the last holiday season suggested online shoppers would continue shopping online. One survey, for instance, indicated that more than 90 percent of consumers reported that shopping online met or exceeded their expectations. Eighty percent said they would increase their online shopping in 2000 (Rutledge, 2000).
Studies found that consumer confidence in using the Internet for shopping reached very high levels, which were
due to a number of factors. Positive comments from family and friends were one of the factors that swayed more people to utilize this option. Better selections from online stores also made the experience more satisfying. Finally,
secure credit card transactions played a major role in increasing sales (Rutledge, 2000).
Consumers were enticed to try shopping on the Internet by the massive marketing campaign last year for both dot-com stores and retail stores online. More than 70 percent of Net shoppers said they bought from e-commerce sites that offered free shipping. Another 54 percent said they were enticed by the discounts offered for their first online purchase. Forty percent used online coupons and 25 percent responded to the offer of free gifts for their online purchase (Rutledge, 2000).
The Direct Marketing Association projected that sales generated from catalogs and the Internet would double in the next four years, reaching $3.33 billion (Entrepreneur, 2000). A study by Jupiter Communications agreed saying that sales would increase this holiday season. This study reported that holiday shoppers would spend almost $12 billion in online purchases between November 1 and December 31 this year, which represents a 66 percent increase over the same time period last year. The increase between the 1998 and 1999 holiday seasons was 126 percent. There is a slowdown in the degree of growth but it is still a substantial increase (Kontzner, 2000)
The Gartner Group predicted a much larger growth this year. They projected sales of $19.5 billion. This group
also believed that dot-com stores and retail stores online
would not spend as much money on advertising this year. Instead, they will spend