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Holiday Spending Report | Online Sales Report | Online Shopping News | People's Addiction to Online Shopping | Big Business is for Small Businesses - letter from the President | Web Proves Its Worth

Recent News about Online Shopping.

Many businesses are coming to the conclusion that it is absolutely necessary for them to have a website. Surveys show that more and more, people are researching every purchase they make on the Internet before buying it online or from your local store. Any Business Owner that has the desire to stay in business for the next five to seven years and beyond needs to have their business on the Internet. 

Information from all of the Internet statistician companies, such as Nielsen/NetRatings and ComScore, only emphasize this fact with unbiased research studies.

A recent study done by the Washington Post on Affluent Americans reflected that the Internet has not only become a part of our daily lives but the most used tool when preparing to make any purchase decisions. Especially if you are aiming at the Business Decision Makers. Having a website is a necessity.

These studies have shown that the majority of people will look on the Internet before they look in the Yellow Pages, 7 to 1, and when asked said that the best place for any company to get their attention was through the Internet.

So having your company represented on the Internet must be a top priority and should be considered as a major part of your marketing and advertising. But it needs to be done correctly and obtain high ranking with the search engines. A website that is not dynamic or is dysfunctional is more of a turn-off than not having one at all. Studies show that the average Internet user will not return to an "average" looking website. So if you want them to come and shop in your store more than once you need them to do the same with your website.

But having a website can cost you several thousand dollars if you try to hire someone to do it for you. Worst of all, you have to rely on someone else to make changes, updates, and modifications to it, while paying them a doctor's salary to do it. But even worse than that, it does you no good to have a website no matter how much you pay for it if nobody can find it. Getting your website listed on the Search Engines does not happen automatically nor for free. Most services charge $80 to $350 per month to promote your website to the Search Engines. When you add in the hosting fees and costs of making changes, the majority of small businesses can not afford to have a decent looking website. Plus the Four year contracts that the web design firms have you sign will keep you locked into paying them $125 to $250 per month even if your website brings you no new business at all. WE HAVE THE ANSWER

E-commerce grew at a pace that put the overall economy to shame in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce  (DOC), which said online sales surpassed US$45 billion during the year.

The DOC also said e-commerce is an increasingly large part of the overall retail economy, with 1.6 percent of the total pie in the fourth quarter of 2002, compared with 1.3 percent in the third quarter and less than 1 percent as recently as Q3 2000.

For all of 2002, e-commerce made up 1.4 percent of total retail expenditures. The U.S. government's figures do not include online travel or other ticket sales or money spent through online brokerages. Private estimates of online spending that include those categories have put 2002 spending at between $50 billion and $80 billion.

Strong finish for 2002
In the fourth quarter of 2002, online sales rose 28 percent to $14.3 billion, the DOC said. This marks the best single quarter on record, replacing the fourth quarter of 2001, when $11.2 billion was spent on the Internet.

The government data actually suggests sales were slightly stronger than previously reported. Previously, comScore/Media Metrix had said sales in the holiday quarter totaled $13.7 billion.

Either way, the growth is impressive when compared with the overall retail industry, which grew just 1.6 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter.

"The question about whether e-commerce would continue to grow after the economic boom has certainly been answered," Nielsen//NetRatings senior analyst Lisa Strand told the E-Commerce Times.

The U.S. economy was not kind to offline retailers during the 2002 holiday season: They saw the smallest revenue gains in more than 30 years. But e-commerce, which tended to over-promise and under-perform during the Internet bubble as many Web-only outfits stumbled over fulfillment and customer service hurdles, showed considerable strength in the same holiday period. Is online selling in the midst of a renaissance, and will it emerge with a new starring role as the economy recovers?

If e-commerce can be said to have reinvented itself, its new persona is far less flashy than the old one. Instead of being viewed as a profit center in its own right, it is now seen as a complement to catalog and brick-and-mortar sales channels -- just another slice of the overall enterprise business pie. While a few companies -- notably Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN), eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) and Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE) -- have been successful in establishing Web-only brands, they are the exceptions that prove the rule.

"The role of e-commerce in companies has obviously gone through a wave of overexcitement and hype, and has come back to a more realistic assessment of what that role can be," Andrew Bartels, vice president and research leader at Giga Information Group, told the E-Commerce Times.

Any business that relies on the Internet as it's sole means of obtaining revenue is foolish but on the same token, any company that does not have itself represented on the Internet is also foolish.

Washingtonpost.com on Thursday unveiled a study done in conjunction with Nielsen//NetRatings that showed affluent customers are best reached online.

The research, done via a study of nearly 1,000 washingtonpost.com users, found that affluent customers -- those making over $100,000 annually  spend a good portion of their day online. The site seized on this fact as further evidence of online publishers' assertion that work hours are the Internet's "prime time."

"We were looking for confirmation of what all of us in the industry suspect, which is that so many of the people are online, especially during the daytime, are a high-quality audience," said Chris Schroeder, Washingtpost.com's chief executive.

The study found that nearly all affluent consumers use the Internet for research before buying a product, and the Internet tied newspapers as the media advertising chosen as most influential. Over half of the affluent said they were influenced by Internet advertising to make a purchase in the past six months.

The Internet is not just being used as an electronic shopping mall, but also as a primary resource for understanding and researching decisions," said Carolyn Clark, a senior Internet analyst at Nielsen//NetRatings.

For example, more than 90 percent of respondents said they used the Internet when making a purchase decision involving an automobile, computer or travel. In those categories, in addition to computers and home electronics, half of consumers spend more than one hour researching, according to the study.

Unsurprisingly, the survey found that the Internet is the dominant media vehicle for affluent consumers during the day.

Washingtonpost.com and other advertisers in the Online Publishers Association (OPA) have tried to leverage the Internet's strength in the day hours into more marketing dollars. Schroeder said the site had done a few dayparting advertisements, including a recent promotion from a food retailer to offer a coupon online just before lunchtime.

Still, marketers have only just begun to experiment with dayparting. To spur this along, the OPA recently published guidelines that divided the day into five distinct parts for marketing purposes online. Showing the effectiveness of the Internet over all other types of media with only Newspapers coming a close second.

"I think dayparting is only in its infancy and folks are beginning to focus on it," Schroeder said.

The findings largely echo those of a recent study done by the Wall Street Journal Online and eMarketer, which found that the Internet is the place for marketers to connect with well-educated and well-off consumers. According to that study, 70 percent of daytime Internet users have college degrees and half have a household income topping $75,000. The study also showed that the Internet was able to reach consumers more effectively than the television.

Washington Post Links
Nielsen/NetRatings Links
ComScore Links

The Top 5 Categories 
for 2002's online spending  include:

Book, Music, and Videos 1.86 Billion Spent Online
Apparel 1.83 Billion Spent Online
Travel 1.5   Billion Spent Online
Consumer Electronics 1.2   Billion Spent Online
Toys and Video Games 1.19 Billion Spent Online

That is why having your business on the Internet is not really a choice anymore.  
It has become a necessity in today's marketplace.

Local competitors may already have one. And remember; it's now much easier for almost any business to tap into almost any market, from almost any geographical location. And best of all, with today’s advances in technology, you can control your entire online empire without anyone's help. Let us show you.

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