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Doing Business in a Virtual World
AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT CULTURAL/ONLINE TRENDS THAT ARE DEFINING THE FUTURE OF THE INTERNET
By Sophia Salis Kelter
The quickness and convenience of shopping online is something more and more people across the U.S. and other industrialized nations are learning to appreciate. Even those who vowed they would never be comfortable with navigating the web are reconsidering as the online landscape has changed a great deal, giving way to cleaner, more secure and easier-to-use websites. According to Nielsen NetRatings, the e-Shopping Holiday Index spiked 35% year over year with 2006 U.S. online retail revenue an estimated .1 million. With such a hefty increase reported in one year along, Nielsen says “online shopping may soon take its place among the American holiday traditions of eating and spending time with family and friends.”
The World Wide Web has become a time-saving solution to our busy lives- the pace of which has undeniably been kicked up many notches in these last decades. More and more people are frantic in their quest to beat the clock in that never-ending cat and mouse game of knocking items off a self-propagating “to do” list. We all can't help but wonder…was it always like this? Nope. Changing family structure has had a tremendous impact on twenty-first century living and has contributed immensely to the success of the Internet.
While you might not remember it, there was a time when most women stayed home- charged with the purchasing of household items from groceries to light-bulbs. There was a time in American society when opening the front door to a salesman was not uncommon and not looked upon with distain- a time when there was actually someone home in the middle of the day to open the door. Then World War II happened. Factories were virtually emptied as more and more men were called overseas. Many of the products generated in these vacant factories were needed to fight the war, presenting an interesting scenario. For the first time, it was not only acceptable but honorable for women to take men's place on the job. Ahhh, the taste of a more independent life was not forgotten after the war was over. A great number of women wanted to continue to work and found their added income could buy the family more. While it didn't happen overnight, it happened nevertheless. Where the 1940's introduced women to new roles, the 1970's fueled up the fight for sexual equality in every aspect of life. There you have it: the working woman. Dual-incomes have contributed to, perhaps created, the materialistic society we are often criticized for. Good, bad or otherwise. We want more, and work harder to get it, leaving us with more money and less time to spend it. Hello Internet…..
A brief look at the cultural shifts that have lead to this consumer revolution was not something originally planned as part of the research for this article. However, to leave it out would have left a sizeable hole in understanding what got us to this point. Now, let's zero in on the e-shopping curve. Every businessperson should keep their sights on it if they hope to meet and exceed projected net revenue.
Speaking to reporters last November during the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis , Tunisia , Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Michael Gallagher cited the fact that Internet users have grown from 16 million to 900 million in the last decade. Now, sit back, breath deeply and take a moment to wrap your brain around that stat. Referring to it as a “curve” might be a major understatement. “Explosion” seems more fitting.
Regarding the breadth of WWW growth, USINFO.STATE.GOV states:
“T he expansion of Internet access and the free flow of information,
along with a substantial increase in wireless telephones systems,
have been driving forces behind rapid economic growth and social
change around the world, says the State Department's top official for telecommunications issues.
Industry analyst, Leadpile.com, created a global buzz when in 2004 it released predictions placing U.S. e-commerce sales at trillion by 2012- representing 25% to 30% of total U.S. sales. That is a remarkable assertion considering U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce released data showing 3 rd quarter 2006 experienced .5 billion in online sales, up 4.5% from the second quarter. Total e-commerce for 2006 will be known on February 16 th , 2007 when the U.S. Census Bureau announces revenue for the last quarter. E-commerce sales in the 3 rd quarter of 2006 accounted for 2.8% of total U.S. sales.
With all stats considered, could Leadpile.com be right? Will the next generation, considered SKIDS by Internet marketers, really be able to push online sales to trillion within the next five years? Only time will tell.
Visit www.inetoptimizer.com on January 30, 2007 for a closer look at the defining delineations between online sales broken down by industry.
About the Author: Sophia Salis Kelter