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Report: 16 Million U.S. Households are Buying Online

More than 23 million U.S. households are connecting to the Internet and almost 16 million of those are participating in e-commerce and related activities, according to a newly released white paper from Ziff-Davis' Market Intelligence operation.

About half of the activity is driven by women, the report said.

The actual number of households making purchases on the Internet topped 10 million in 1997, the study said. Most online shoppers are spending 20 hours or more online each week with the most popular activity being to learn about products that are then bought off-line, followed by shopping for products to be purchased online.

The findings are based on the 1998 ZD Technology User Profile (TUP), a semi- annual survey of U.S. PC use and users conducted by ZD Market Intelligence in La Jolla, CA.

Demographic profiles of e-commerce participants, as well as Internet users as a whole, are also included in the white paper.

"Online shoppers and Internet users tend to be younger, more affluent, and better-educated than the general U.S. population," said Miran Chun, industry analyst for ZD Market Intelligence. "Our TUP study also showed that online shoppers were split evenly between males and females--a fact that should make online retailers, marketers, and advertisers sit up and take notice."

The biggest challenge in closing the e-commerce gap--even bigger than security, payment, and standards issues--is the fact that more than half of households in the U.S. do not have PCs or Internet access, the report said. This low level of PC and Internet penetration has contributed greatly to keeping e-commerce from reaching critical mass.

In addition to Internet penetration, bandwidth presents another challenge to e-commerce growth. Greater bandwidth--availability, dependability, and speed--is crucial to creating positive consumer experiences and, therefore, enabling people to feel more confident participating in e-commerce activities, the study stated.

The white paper also profiled e-commerce in the U.S. workplace market with a break down by industry and enterprise size. "For all the media hype surrounding e-commerce, penetration in the U.S. workplace market still hovers in the single digits," said Chun.

The e-commerce white paper can be purchased in Acrobat format for $495 on the ZD InfoBeads Web site. Printed copies are also available.

ZD Market Intelligence, formerly Computer Intelligence, is a provider of sales and marketing solutions to a variety of computer and telecommunications companies.

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