Consumers continue to buy on the Web

Despite a softening US economy, the number of online users and buyers continues to grow, according to the new eCommerce:B2C Report from eMarketer.

The report, which aggregates and analyzes data from more than 100 research organizations, includes estimates for US B2C e-commerce revenues in 2001 ranging from the Direct Marketing Association’s $37.1 billion to $117 billion by Keenan Vision.

The New York based eMarketer’s own estimate is that US B2C e-commerce revenues, which totaled $38.3 billion in 2000, will quadruple to $156 billion by 2005.

The report also reveals that the online buying population continues to grow, reaching 79.3 million this year. Significantly, more and more of those consumers are opting to buy from trusted names from the offline world. Traditional merchants such as LL Bean, Wal-Mart, and K-Mart, have expanded their online operations, often at the expense of pure dot-coms.

“It’s clear that the Internet has been accepted and is evolving as a key distribution channel-not a separate business entity-for traditional merchants,” said Geoff Ramsey, CEO and co-founder of eMarketer, which provides business statistics for online businesses. “e-Commerce has become a strategic imperative for all retail merchants since consumers like to shop seamlessly across channels, including the Internet.” While the top ten traditional retailers move forward, pure-plays such as Amazon.com, seeking to survive, are venturing into traditional merchant waters, striking distribution deals with physical outlets such as Circuit City, Toys R Us and Target. Other findings from the eCommerce: B2C Report:

· The number of US Internet users — 116.5 million in 2000 — will increase to 184.1 million by 2005. Americans buying online will more than double, from 64.1 million in 2000 to 130 million by 2005.
· Giga Information Group’s data indicate that click-and-mortar companies will dominate Internet sales in 2001, as they did in 2000.
· Alexa Research reports that 33 sites in the top 50 have multi-channel operations, while only 17 are pure dot-coms.
· eMarketer places the online customer conversion ratio at 2.9 percent for 2000, an improvement from 1.9% of 1999. For 2001, the ratio will jump to 3.5% as e-tailers attract and win new customers with more targeted, customized marketing campaigns.
· By year-end 2001, 37% of all teens (14 to 17) online will have purchased something on the web, up from 30 percent in 2000.
· Visa International places online credit-card fraud rates between 25 cents and 28 cents per every $100 charged, significantly higher than the 7 cents for all transactions.
· Jupiter Research found that consumers are “overwhelmingly” fearful about the theft of credit-card data online. Nearly 81 percent of US consumers are afraid that their card number will be intercepted online.