On day I write this column, Spaceworks, another promising Internet company has closed its doors. The fever that once encouraged business writers to claim dot coms would quickly overcome and obliterate traditional businesses, is now burning against Net companies. Now it's fashionable for journalists to scoff at Internet enterprises, ridiculing excesses such as goofy 2000 Super Bowl ads.
Ok, we've all had fun with media backlash, now let's regain our bearings. Amid stories of dot com demise, there is a hidden stream of positive reports showing a growing base of Internet consumers willing to spend ever greater amounts online. Is anyone covering this story?
Report after report shows a growing population of Internet shoppers. High-speed connections are finally catching fire. Cable modems are booming and telecom companies are struggling to keep up with demand for DSL installations. Analysts are saying nice things about Amazon.com's chances of hitting profitability later in 2001. Some bad news.
One recent piece of good cheer arrived in form of "The State of Online Retailing 4.0," a new Shop.org study conducted by The Boston Consulting Group. The quiet-but-powerful headline of report reads, "The North American online retail market is expected to grow 45 percent in 2001, reaching $65 billion." Not bad growth statistics, especially since we're supposedly in throws of a complete collapse of Internet economy.
Apparently, online retailers continue to improve their functionality while journalists report that Rome.com is burning. "While consumer demand continues to propel growth, online retailers have wrestled with operational issues. They're improving their performance in key areas such as customer acquisition and buyer conversion, " said Elaine Rubin, chairman (sic) of Shop.org.
She goes on to point out weakness of some Net companies that contributed to very real crash among some of ill-prepared dot coms. "There is a steep learning curve in becoming an online retailer - those players that were unable to excel in all facets of this complex business just didn't make it to end of 2000."