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Teens and E-Commerce: Selling to the Teen Shopper
By James Maguire May 22, 2006
When it comes to shopping online, teenage users are a contradiction: Most teens don't have their own credit card, yet they love to shop online. (Which simply proves they have access to their parents' card). About 80 percent of online teens age 12-17 visit retail sites, according to ComScore. This represents an audience of between 12 to 15 million teen shoppers. For example, eBay saw 6.4 million teen users in April 2006, while Amazon saw 3.5 million and Apple saw 3 million. (In Apple's case, iTunes was surely the draw.) Another paradox about teens online, or perhaps it's best described as a myth: Teens are not the super tech-savvy users they are popularly thought to be. According to popular conception, teens are far more adept at Internet use than adult users. We have an image of the totally plugged-in teen, instant messaging while cruising MySpace, downloading movies while listening to their iPod. But being constantly plugged doesn't mean teens are tech wizards, claims a study by the Nielsen Norman Group. While someteens are tech know-it-alls, they're the exception, says Hoa Loranger, one of the report's authors. To be sure, teens are much more comfortable with technology — they don't fear it as much as adults do. But if something doesn't work for a teen user, "they have much less patience, and that's why they can't overcome a lot of technological obstacles. If it doesn't work the way they expect, they just abandon the process." Furthermore, teens' research and reading skills haven't yet matured, she notes. Due to these factors, teens successfully complete online tasks less often (55 percent success rate) than adult users (66 percent success rate), based on the Nielsen study. Yet, however difficult it may be to reach these fickle consumers, they represent a potentially lucrative market. A Pew study in late 2004 estimated the total online teen audience, age 12-17, as 21 million. This first generation of users to have grown from infancy in the Internet age will surely be active online consumers in the years ahead. Balancing Hipness with Ease of Use The Nielsen study watched teens in action. So it's based on actual teen behavior as opposed to surveys that teen users filled out about themselves. As researchers tracked teen Web usage, they discovered a conundrum: Teenagers are attracted to sites with a hip, cutting-edge look, yet they have difficulty with a complex design. "The visual feel and visual design is very important to them. First impressions are very important," Loranger says. "They like cool graphics and they pay attention to the visual experience more than adults do." Teen users also need to be constantly engaged and entertained to keep their attention. "The common thing we heard over and over again is 'I'm bored,'" she says.
Teens are more task specific. answering questions about billing and shipping address or finding a credit card's three-digit security code might be time consuming. Furthermore." Hip is good.by color and size. posting a wish list allows them to direct other users (like parents or friends) to gifts they want. polls and interactive games." . Indeed. Design Tips: The Teen Shopper Interactivity is Powerful "Teens really like to interact with the media they're using. They're not like young children. it's a good idea to allow users to sort products by a variety of factors . which turns the Internet into an interactive community. "It makes it more engaging. "Teens in particular frequently use price as a sorting factor. Adding any complexity to this already new experience could result in abandonment. "They don't like to use the Web as a television set. Teens like to be able to voice their opinion. "An overwhelming number of kids went straight to the clearance or sale section. "So when the visual design or the interaction design gets in the way of what they're trying to accomplish. "While a cool visual design is important. Their limited patience means that filling out a form discourages sales. it's a big turn-off for teens. Offer Wish Lists Offering an online wish list is an effective sales tool with teens. Furthermore. and definitely by price. in the Nielsen study. All these elements are best offered in smaller." she says. Speedy Checkout Your site's checkout process should be as short and easy as possible. they want to get something done. Good interactivity tools include online quizzes. teens are often cautioned by parents against giving out their personal data online. The reason: "Teens are so price conscious — they don't have a lot of money. younger shoppers like sites with wish lists because it shows the site respects them as customers — particularly important for teen shoppers." Loranger notes. who randomly scrub the screen with the mouse to see what pops up. you need to balance it with simple interaction because they won't spend the time to figure it out. then that reallydegrades the user experience for teens. Though many teens don't have a credit card. because of teens' limited budget. manageable chunks for teen users. voting. Don't Require Registration Requiring registration prior to purchase has a negative effect on both adult and teen shoppers. So the primary Web design challenge for teens is to give a very easy-to-use design a very contemporary look." she says. This is more important for teens than for adults. Selling to Teens: Key Rules Show Price Upfront For teenage shoppers." says Loranger." Interactivity is the fuel that drives the phenomenal success of MySpace. "It's good to keep that theory in mind in terms of the site's writing.But ultimately. any type of multimedia. "If the site is shouting for their attention and everything is dynamic and moving. but overly busy or complex is bad. but it's especially bad for teens. Easily-Digested Tidbits Teens like to do things in bite-sized pieces. it's critical to display the price with the first mention of the product. Since many teens have limited experience with checkout." Allow Sort by Preference Again. message boards and games." Loranger says." the study says.
"Teens are highly active clickers — they want things now. While adults have 'banner blindness.) Fast Loads are Vital A slow loading site discourages all users." Loranger says. she says. Pictures are Good Text that's supplemented by graphics and pictures are much more appealing to teens than straight text. but teens even more so. otherwise teens won't pay attention. Design for Vintage Gear Teens often use outdated equipment. These aging systems aren't optimized for multimedia. but e-commerce enjoys rosy predictions for years to come. (In contrast. The rest of the economy might be shaky. Even if their parents have the latest gear. "teens are [often] working with hand-me-down equipment." Loranger says. you might want to 'fancy it up' a little bit — add a little illustration." ARTICLE 2 Starting Your Own E-Business: Part 1 . teenagers notice ads and pay a bit more attention than adults do. "If you want to capture their attention.Design your site to convey information quickly. "The challenge for designers is to have a more graphical interface and have these fancier features. "When they compare sites that have pictures with ones that don't. text links are more credible and more likely to be clicked on than something that's done up graphically. You certainly know how to spot a growth area when you see one. .' and tend to avoid things that look like ads. 2005 Congratulations — you're thinking of starting an online business. their limited patience means a slow load results in a mass exodus. for adults it's better to use text-based links.) The solution: "Make sure you compliment multimedia with the text version. Again. but if it takes too long to load — even at high speed connections — the kids will be disinterested. including donated equipment at schools and libraries.The Plan By James Maguire September 19." (Or users aren't allowed to download a new plug-in. But you don't want to overdo it. More and more people are spending more and more money online every year. "So a lot of these teen sites that push multimedia and sound and movies don't work on the system at school.'" Ads are Okay Teens don't mind ads. they say 'I want to stick with the site that has pictures.
And why not? The barriers to entry are low. There are a lot of people making money online who don't have degrees from the Wharton School of Business (Trump's alma mater). actually. You may think you have your online merchant plan — and you might. it's not simple to succeed as an online merchant (which is different from just setting up a site). You'll need to choose your software platform.Of course. there's a lot of homework involved here — and plenty of cash outlay — but all told. Or. you can practically give away your product. Well. Retired grade school teachers start them. hang on. and doing pretty well in the process. You can be one of them. But before you assemble your basic business structure. The hard part is developing your e-business plan. CEO of Saffron Rouge and an expert in starting online businesses. and there's gold in them hills. if you've got some dollars to invest. Whatever the case. well-financed business types launch them. you have one precious opportunity to really think things through — now. Experienced. are ready to work hard. "The biggest favor you do yourself in the beginning is to take time to really think about what your doing — make deliberate decisions. and people who use to sell shoes for a living start them. 'But wait." says Binder. set up a credit card account.' Well. in truth. it seems like everyone is starting an e-business. and figure out a few more nuts and bolts things. this part's not rocket science. Plenty of cyber-merchants are flying by the seat of their pants." says Jeff Binder. your shipping is free all the time.com. More e-businesses have failed because of a faulty underlying concept than because of problems with software or hosting issues. and — this part gets tricky — are willing to put some serious thought into it. and an inventive strategy. Oh sure. it's tough out there. The easy part is assembling your basic business structure. At this point. 'I already have my business plan — I'm just looking for a little help in building my site. but make all your money on your grotesquely expensive shipping fees. a lot of online businesses can be run from home. but a lot of them went belly up because their business plan was no better than the Titanic's plans for dealing with icebergs. and people who have no idea what they're doing launch them.' you say. develop a marketing plan. As one e-commerce expert noted. That requires awareness and understanding of what it means to do business online. But don't lose heart. it's the do-or-die step in starting your online store. everyone would start on online business. before you launch YourBusiness. there are more dollars being spent online all the time. Remember the Internet boom of the late '90s? Those businesses had full tech staffs and fat marketing budgets. make sure you've considered the following: . Or. but your product costs are higher. The Two Parts Roughly speaking. starting an online business is divided into two parts: the hard part and the easy part. if it were that easy. Hordes of new online stores spring up every week. "Am I going to be niche retailer? Am I going to be a mass market retailer?" In short. and I'm rarin' to go. Developing a sound business plan is not only critical. "how am I going to make money?" "Your business model could be such that you don't make anything on the products you sell — but you make money by selling ads on your site. Let's start with the serious thought required before you open for business. But. but the amount of competition for those dollars is growing even faster.
otherwise you'll never bond with them enough to be successful. Case in point: AnglersVice is a fly-fishing site started by an ex-stockbroker who's following his lifelong passion with fly-fishing.now is the time to spot the chinks in their armor. What do you wish was different about their online store? Case in point: Before she launched PaperMojo. And. Case in point: GatorPack sells packing supplies — nothing unique there. including "The Angler.) With all your customers' desires in mind. and it doesn't have to be any different from the dryacross town. that setting up a real-world store doesn't." an online magazine about the sport. What are they missing? What customer need do they fail to serve. Find some way to set yourself apart so people come to you rather than your competition. your 'me-too' approach will limit your success. What Sells Online As e-commerce enters its second decade. She learned two things: most do not have a broad selection. but if not. . Shelley Gardner-Alley checked out similar sites. This tool doesn't give absolute numbers of visitors.she was ready to one-up her competitors before her first day of business. (In fact you better share their interests. some kind of twist. you'll need a good rationale for going outside the norm. They're established in the search engines and you're not. He posts photos of happy fisherman near the top of his front page. all businesses are right next to each other. But two things keep customers coming back: the site's design is as simple and efficient as possible — customers order right from the front page (no digging). What's the competition? Scope out potential competitors' sites . Beginning with the front page. make it clear that you exist for their special needs. GatorPack sets itself apart by being incredibly easy and fast to buy from. that you can cater to and gain advantage? Pretend you're a customer. He knows his customers and he uses that knowledge to sell to them.What's really different? Is there anything that really distinguishes your site from similar online merchants? If you're merely going to sell widgets like the 14 other well-established widget sites do. certain patterns have emerged about what sells well on the Internet. But online. So she incorporated both these features into her business plan . Click your mouse and you're there. make your site the center of their world. Who are your customers? The people who spend money at your site are the most beautiful people in the world — you want to know everything about them. The product you sell might not be in this mold. the site focuses like a laser beam on filling orders the same day they get them. but it provides a relative ranking number. which sells decorative handmade paper. he offers scads of information about fly-fishing. you can use the Alexa service. To find out how much traffic your competitor is getting. So simply setting up the exact same online business that someone set up in 2002 is going to be an uphill climb. So setting up an online business takes a little more originality. Here's the reason cleaning business cleaning business drive across town originality is so important in your e-business plan: You can set up a dryin your neighborhood. No imagination. He not only sells the gear.because nobody's going to to get their clothes dry-cleaned. but no problem . and many do not have attractive sites.
can help. Merchant E-Solutions Executive Vice President Charles Jadallah and CNET Networks Chairman and CEO Shelby Bonnie in a conversation about what's working and what still needs work. and the ability for that to go to 20 or 30 percent and be truly global is underappreciated. Such a system of universal authentication also would ease the shopping process. There's most room for growth in international sales. she added. "Our kids will be much more ready to adopt this than our generation is. By her analysis. thanks to the rise of phishing exploits. To celebrate. If you subtract sales on eBay. when someone gave up personal information. restaurants now dial into the electronic payment network to authorize a sale. 2004 According to research by VeriSign. e-commerce was born on August 11." he said. "We're beginning to see real efforts to make authentication online stronger. customers will always choose ease of use over security. name and address for each purchase. the Internet infrastructure and technology company hosted a panel discussion with Net honchos to reminisce and. "Why not plug it into the Internet?" he asked. have waned. formerly a top barrier to the growth of e-commerce. she said. joined Yahoo. the phisher still wouldn't be able to use it. we'll move from proprietary.1 percent of total retail sales. according to Jadallah. For example. more important. such as an account number and password to a phisher. where one simply swipes a card. the value of online sales is only 2. Meeker noted. security is as much of an issue as ever." he said. to imagine the next 10 years of shopping online." she said. e-commerce represents just 1. While consumers' fears about providing credit card information online. "Authentication is a must-have but too hard to do. Morgan Stanley Managing Director Mary Meeker.7 percent of all commerce." Yahoo's Rosensweig said that online shopping adds the most consumer value by offering a breadth of product information. About 2 million people have taken the phishing bait. the channel is still in its infancy. He said that in the next 10 years. We're finally getting to a pain point with consumers where the momentum is clearly there. "Authentication has to be ubiquitous and mobile. which is making it easier for physical stores to do business. There's a flip side to e-commerce. The goal would be to have authentication methods in place so that. a process that takes at least a couple of minutes. when a CD by Sting was sold by NetMarket. the experience will be similar to that in a store. But VeriSign's Sclavos said that authenticating Web sites and individuals. Chief Operating Officer Dan Rosensweig. When you look at e-commerce statistics.ARTICLE 3 Where Are We Now? A Decade of E-Commerce By Susan Kuchinskas October 25. chairman and CEO of VeriSign. If they have to choose. one-off forms of authentication to an open model. He said Yahoo's Launch music service is beginning to benefit by . "About 15 percent of transactions are now cross-border. which is what his company does." Sclavos said. so you can carry it with you. That will allow business partners to share not only authentication but also the cost. 1994. Jadallah noted. who predicts the checkout process and ease of use will improve dramatically. Instead of having to enter the card number. "That's the next wave. Panelists Stratton Sclavos.
Bonnie said that just as reviews have a big impact on conversion rate. shipping. hosting. ARTICLE 4 Choosing a Hosted E-Commerce Solution By Sean Michael Kerner August 23.the amount of user-generated content and the ability to track and understand users. marketing smarts and. "Usage is escalating faster than anyone would have imagined. robust. 2005 The promise of easy. GoDaddy. though.and for retailers. reliable and relatively inexpensive hosted e-commerce services have begun to appear. Bonnie said. who can aggregate user data. 1&1." he said. And services will come into play: You'll be able to get five people to bid on coming to mow your lawn on Wednesday. "All you see now is the easy stuff. installation-free e-commerce is almost as old the e-commerce industry itself. making the shopping experience more like that of a physical store." He said that the Internet is hitting another inflexion point." he said. As that number goes even higher. Here on ECommerce-Guide.com." Meeker predicted that as the complexity of e-commerce and Internet use in general increases. Choice can be good — but it can also be confusing. Usage is now driving more complexity into interactions between networks and applications. offering a combination of shopping cart technology. "Stuff will get to you when you want it. "Metadata and creating smarter connections will take us to a whole new level of personalization. is finding a way to harness user recommendations and social networks to offer people things they didn't know about. payment. The reality. and you will really want it. of course. So how do you choose? . Just about every major hosting company today offers some form of hosted e-commerce package. is that it's only recently that solid. because there's more value to them. Hostway and Yahoo! among others. "But people will be more forgiving. we'll see more outages in the coming year. "Personalization will be surprising and effective. Sclavos said." Article originally appeared on Internetnews. then match it with users' networks to offer such things as music recommendations that are much more likely to hit the mark. "We'll have to be like the phone networks and the electric grids and step it up for the next phase.com we've reviewed a number of hosting companies' offerings including: Interland. A hosted e-commerce service is supposed to solve an online merchant's non-product needs." Meeker said the importance and quality and magnitude of consumer reviews is very important in the decision process. merchandising." Meeker said. video will dramatically change the game. The challenge. VeriSign did 1 billion lookups in 2000 and 14 billion in 2004. He and CNET's Bonnie agreed that adding social networking to user reviews and comments will make sites even more useful for consumers -.
In Part 2 we'll apply those measures against the vendors we've reviewed. Anything less than that is hardly a wizard and ends up being far more frustrating than not having one in the first place. It's just that the hosting companies are. the basic needs of online merchants are almost always the same. What I Take for Granted Service. Some vendors will include a mailing list capability. Integration with XML-based shopping feeds — such as Google's Froogle . 1) Full Wizard-Driven Setup — Not half way and not half fast You've chosen to go with a hosted e-commerce solution because it's an all -in-one solution and is supposed to be easier right? Then why would you want to struggle with setup?? A proper wizard should be able to take you from start to finish in the completion of a fully operational. but it's not good enough. all really good at service and by . want to change hosts and move your store to a different vendor's solution. PayPal is an excellent payment gateway and serves the needs of many.If you can't measure it. the lynchpin that holds e-commerce together. That's not to say those elements are not important . you can't manage it.e. to optimize sales. and it doesn't meet everyone's needs. You don't want to have to type everything in again do you? The ability to easily export data is equally as important. 6) Shipping Shipping has always been. you're still up a creek without a paddle. Understanding where your business is coming from is critical to e-commerce success. You may. wouldn't it? 4) Additional marketing capabilities — If you build it. UPS. which is certainly a start. FedEx). Though. Others will also include optional incentives such as gift certificates.engine is critical. If they can't find you (or the product you want to sell). it MUST include automated and robust shipping calculation tie-ins to the major shipping companies (i. at some point. The best hosted e-commerce vendors know this and offer several payment gateways. 3) Catalog import/export features — Can you say carpal tunnel? Every e-commerce storefront will allow you to build a catalog. they won't come. you've got to market it as well. support and the actual hosting for the major hosting companies and their respective ecommerce offerings is a given. Well. It would be a real shame if you had to manually re-enter all of your precious product catalog data again. in my experience. I think the better you understand your visitors' online behavior. Not all services are created equal. No hosted e-commerce vendor will ever tell you that they don't allow you to customize a template. the more the merrier. the better off you'll be. What's Important The first step in choosing which service to choose is first deciding and understanding what's important. and the ability to run promotions and run an affiliate marketing program. Use as much marketing panache to attract visitors to your site. and will always be. but not all of them will allow you to import the data you already have. though. coupons. In my opinion.In Part 1 of this series we'll look at what's important in choosing an e-commerce hosting provider. 2) Choice of templates — Not just customizability of templates. Some of the hosted e-commerce sites include reporting and some include more advanced web analytics like Urchin. 7) Analytics . one design one template is not good enough for myriad of businesses and their products. for the most part. whooptie doo! That's just not good enough! If the vendor doesn't offer a strong selection of template to begin with.they are. 5) Payment — PayPal is good. It isn't the only payment gateway. will they come? It's not enough just to build a store. production-ready e-commerce storefront. USPS. One size does not fit all. Frankly. design or style. For a hosted e-commerce solution to be of any practical use. and within your site.
Nevertheless. the relationship between church and cash is an inescapable issue for both the tiny house of worship that survives on the offerings of its congregation and the non-denominational mega-church that operates like a highly charged corporation. but mentioning money and religion in the same breath can cause even more squirming. Who's the Best? So where does that leave us? The above info is all fine and nice. IT Resellers Earn 25% Monthly Commission With KineticD Award Winning Backup Solution Perfect for SMB Clients. The reality is that the hosted e-commerce solutions offered by the hosting companies are in a state of constant flux. In part two of "Choosing a hosted e-commerce solution. 1&1. GoDaddy and Hostway). The reviews that we've done here on ECommerce-Guide. We'll also include a chart that will break it all down based on what the vendors are currently saying. by and large. but which vendor offers the best solution? The answer to that question is not nearly as easy as I would like it to be. . New features are constantly being added to these services which make it difficult (if not impossible) to make a finite recommendation. but it is one that offers a great deal of choice." I'll pull out the noted and noteworthy from the reviews of hosted solutions we've done to help you make an informed choice. Try It Now Religion may rival sex and politics as a taboo subject for dinner table conversations. all of the services provide excellent support and service. Among the four hosts that I personally reviewed (Interland. But.definition they're hosting companies. Choosing a hosted e-commerce solution isn't an easy choice. I've written reviews of solutions that I knew to be accurate as of the day I wrote them — only to become somewhat inaccurate only a few days later due to an upgrade that significantly altered or improved the solution.com are only snapshots of those solutions at points in time. perhaps Interland stood out a bit because they were exceptionally fast. ARTICLE 5 Faith in E-Commerce By Mick Brady E-Commerce Times 10/30/00 12:00 AM PT E-commerce sites offering religious and spiritually oriented items are gradually taking root on the Web.
money matters. said that religious travel is a $10 billion market. in spite of the vast potential for the market.Regardless of size or creed. but faith-based e-commerce has come a bit late to the game. Consider too. sound.. jewelry and articles for the home. and where there is money. In an interview with the E-Commerce Times. the money travelers spend on visits to the Vatican. and a vast array of decorative and ceremonial items. churches spend about $49 billion (US$) annually for such purchases as special seating. the Holy Land and innumerable other destinations of religious significance across the globe. flooring and windows. videos.S. audio-visual and lighting equipment. Tony Uphoff. Inc.000 U. Religious content has been pervasive on the Internet since its early days. music. According to "Your Church" magazine. there is usually an e-commerce opportunity. president and CEO of Beliefnet. an estimated 370. office furniture and supplies. . That figure does not include the amount individuals spend on religious books.
com's second fastest growing category for book sales is an indication of its size and potential. In addition to the demand for traditional items. menorahs or the many other religious articles sold in connection with faiths and denominations worldwide. Uphoff said. such as rosaries.and related e-commerce activity -. there is a huge market for goods and services related to tangential fields. . but the fact that "religion and spirituality" is Amazon.Market without Borders If the definition of religion is expanded to include spirituality.is difficult to ascertain. the scope of the overall market -.
Belief in B2B As part of its strategy to move toward profitability." he said. "The pendulum has gone out a little too far.most of it in a second round of financing that took place after the dot-com shakeout began in earnest earlier this year. and offers software -." He said the site provides interactive applications for ceremonies and services. and faithbased organizations build e-communities. "We're equally committed to building a wildly successful commercial company. Uphoff said he is "not attempting to time the fragility of the public markets.via the application service provider (ASP) model -.net signed an agreement with Churchplaza. While the spiritual significance of chiropractic treatment. advertising and Web design. but it will swing back to the middle. adding. it is vital for others." but acknowledged that "a liquidity event" might be in the company's future. with revenue coming from three sources: shopping. Wages of Virtue? Belief. herbs and botanicals. is often included in the spirituality category. a business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce Web site launched in September.5 million in venture funding from Highland Capital and other investors -. "We look to provide tools and information to individuals and groups to nurture their religious and spiritual beliefs." Uphoff remarked. Under the agreement.net as "a portal for anyone interested in religion and spirituality.designed to help churches.Alternative health and medicine. music and other products with spiritual themes associated with faiths around the globe. church leaders and administrators can fulfill all of their church purchasing needs . Uphoff described Belief. sells books.net has yet to turn a profit. According to Churchplaza. the B2B site aims to serve as "resource where pastors. for example. Churchplaza will promote Beliefnet's Web services.com.net has received over $25." Belief. and obtain access to its online procurement service in return. but Uphoff expressed confidence the organization has adopted a sound business model. and yoga might not be apparent to some consumers. houses of worship. Belief.
windows. ARTICLE 6 E-BUSINESS The Evolution of E-Commerce Print Version E-Mail Article Reprints By Jennifer LeClaire E-Commerce Times 02/07/05 5:00 AM PT A quick glimpse at the data promises much more evolution in the years to come. "The development of ChurchPlaza. Thomas McElheny. said the move to the Internet was critical to serve the needs of the large and growing church products industry.com reflects our broader strategy to overlay a B2B e-commerce model on our already well-established offline distribution model. IT Resellers Earn 25% Monthly Commission With KineticD Award Winning Backup Solution Perfect for SMB Clients. Dr. predicted American firms alone would sell US$316 billion in goods and services via the Web by 2010. Inc. for example. up from about 7 percent today. That figure would more than double 2004's online spending to account for some 12 percent of all retail sales.on the Internet. including the North American Baptist Churches. the Evangelical Free Church and the 5. e-commerce has evolved from online billboards to a fully functional." The site has 50 product categories. Try It Now e've come a long way. While there were admittedly a few bumps along the road. Churchplaza says it is the exclusive church supplier partner for more than 30 denominations. the path from 1994 through the 2004 . personalized shopping experience over the past decade. CEO of ChurchPlaza. Forrester Research.000-church Willow Creek Association. baby! Indeed. including seating." McElheny said. and sound and lighting equipment..
" "eyeballs" and "personalization" that once captured the essence of articles about what it takes to be successful on the Web. "we've got a long way to go. up from about 7 percent today. for example.holiday shopping season is full of crucial milestones of Internet pioneers and technology innovators. even as we look back at 10 years of growth." A quick glimpse at the data promises much more evolution in the years to come. Forrester Research. . A stroll down memory lane reminds us of terms like "stickiness. However. That figure would more than double 2004's online spending to account for some 12 percent of all retail sales. predicted American firms alone would sell US$316 billion in goods and services via the Web by 2010. many analysts have one eye on the future and they are saying.
of course. Looking at Amazon's evolution offers a pretty clear picture of the evolution of ecommerce.com (Nasdaq: AMZN). . according to Nielsen//Netratings (Nasdaq: NTRT) senior retail analyst Heather Daugherty. Two of the first online purveyors were. There Was Amazon However. In the beginning. the Internet was characterized by slow dial-up connections and online billboards. eBay(Nasdaq: EBAY) and Amazon. Netscape came on the scene in 1994 with its point-and-click Web browser that opened the door to the billiondollar revenues e-tailers enjoy today. that's the future.In the Beginning.
com's devastating 1998 holiday season. However." Daugherty said. the Internet bubble burst. The Recording Industry Association of America continues to file lawsuits in droves to stop music file sharing. "A major turning point came when people started to trust online shopping vendors about two years ago." Innovative Technology ."Amazon has been around since almost day one. The company still couldn't keep up with demand a year later. Controversial Times Within a few short years after Netizens began surfing the Web. the company kept at it.8 million units ordered. Look no further than Napster. the online music swap site that started a war with the music industry that is still raging. Amazon finally posted its first net profit two years ago.com fold. worldwide during the holiday season. Analysts said the coming years will surely see an evolving digital music landscape." Gartner (NYSE: IT) analyst Adam Sarner told the E-Commerce Times. seeing major players like Boo. People started to find out that it was convenient to get their holiday shopping done online. Amazon set a single-day record with more than 2. That. it was hardly uphill from there. or 32 items per second. combined with the denial-of-service attacks that made headlines in early 2000. SBC Communications began offering high-speed connections in 1998. And who could forget Toysrus. was its busiest ever. Although Amazon certainly had a lot of skepticism from the street as to when it was going to become profitable. marking one of the most important milestones for e-commerce. However. a rebound wasn't too far off. shook consumer confidence and ushered in a new era of focus on security. Controversial times would soon follow. DSL entered the picture. Not too long afterward." Perseverance paid off. when children didn't receive their Christmas presents on time. "We got through the Toys R' Us fiasco. its 10th. and business started picking up. This past holiday season. "They were the first ones to offer one-click ordering that people now expect to find.
By making the payment process easier." Colletta said. One of the most important milestones was order fulfillment technologies." Looking Ahead What will the next 10 years bring? UPS' Colletta said we've only just begun: "During the next 10 years we anticipate seeing more ease of use. it's trackable at all points along its journey. vice president and general manager of Yahoo Small Business. "In-store pick up will allow consumers to place the order on their wireless device and get the product easily. easy-to-use e-commerce solutions that have enabled hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs to transform their unique ideas into online successful businesses. on-demand services would gain greater momentum. consumers ordering products online through their cell phones and PDAs will probably become commonplace. and easier online return options. "Broadband and instant access is going to change the way we think about e-commerce. "If you don't want to drive to the store to pick up your favorite artist's new album." she said. told the E-Commerce Times that the essence of the Internet is the establishment of a level playing field for communicating and collaborating. even better technology." he said. Once a shipment is en route. "In 10 years.Rich Riley. according to UPS Vice President for Customer Technology Jordan Colletta." . "Another critical turning point is the evolution of the online payment process. the shipping process has become easier and more visible. dramatically improved visibility as well as a wider array of solutions for both online buyers and merchants." Nielsen//Netratings' Daugherty expects to see significant changes as wireless ecommerce grows." Gartner's Sarner said that as consumers tap into broadband." Riley said. an important milestone in the evolution of e-commerce is the development of affordable. "Specifically. including shipping. Riley believes the power of the Internet has enabled innovators and entrepreneurs to reach their audiences efficiently and effectively over the past decade. and you don't want it mailed three days later. "There is increased confidence in online order fulfillment. the security of personal data. Colletta told the E-Commerce Times that online buying is mainstream today as compared to a decade ago. then you can order the content online instantly.
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