How much holiday shopping did you do on-line this year? If you are reading this, then chances are good that you made at least one purchase on-line. Over 54% of all Americans did it . A much higher percentage (>80%) of Internet users did it.
Not only did you do it, you liked it! Less than 7% of on-line shoppers reported a bad experience with 88% reporting they were satisfied or very satisfied . It is clear that on-line shopping has come of age with such a high level of participation and satisfaction. It appears that past issues of trust, security, and bad ecommerce websites are replaced with good ecommerce sites, higher trust, better security, and just plain better execution and service by on-line retailers. Quick, easy, and convenient shopping overcomes the concerns people have had in the past.
With a whopping 35% increase in on-line holiday sales this year, up to $18 billion , one analyst calls it “a fantastic season for on-line retailers. ”  This is the third straight season of record growth for on-line shopping. This year, 2004, is expected to follow the trend. US on-line sales are expected to grow from $55 billion in 2003 to $73 billion in 2004 .
In searching for some bad news, it was hard to find. The worst news was that 3.6% of on-line shoppers had a very bad experience where either the merchandise was not delivered on time or was delivered in poor condition. This is a small fraction even compared to traditional retail sales.
Can the news and trends about ecommerce retailing really be that good? The answer seems to be a resounding YES! Some of the more popular on-line markets have double digit penetration now. That means some on-line retailers are reaping over 10% of total market share in their industries with a rising trend. In addition, more on-line retailers are showing profits. In 2002, about 50% of on-line retailers showed a profit from their on-line operations while 70% did in 2003 .
So, if you are one of those 70% of on-line retailers making profits in 2003, sit back, breathe a big sigh of relief, and relish the moment. There won't be much time to relax and enjoy your successes. New business is right around the corner.
If you are a business and don't yet have an on-line sales presense, then it's never too early to get started. To get ready for the 2004 holiday season, it's best to start now.
Create ecommerce plan – 4/15/04
Select ecommerce software & consultant (NetSource can help) – 5/15/04
Build the website – 7/15/04
Put the website into operation, start selling- 8/15/04
Create on-line marketing plan – 8/15/04
Execute the marketing plan - 9/15/04
Ready for holiday sales – 11/15/04
It can be done quicker than the schedule suggested above, but, to do it right requires thought, planning, and time.
 Nashville Business Journal, 12/4/03
 ASD/AMD Marketwatch E-Newsletter, 12/24/03
 eSpending Report, Goldman Sachs, Harris Interactive, Nielsen/Netratings, 1/5/04
 Abha Bhagat, Nielsen/NetRating, COMPUTERWORLD, 1/6/04
 ASD/AMD MarketWatch E-Newsletter, 10/16/03
About The Author
Craig Neidel has worked for NetSource Communications Inc. for 6 years and has experience in web development, e-commerce solutions and web marketing. NetSource Communications creates custom e-commerce solutions and web applications. http://www.ntsource.com .