It’s Beginning to Look Like an E-Christmas

Worldwide electronic commerce this holiday season is projected to surpass $12.2 billion in 1999, according to GartnerGroup’s Dataquest unit, up from $4.5 billion in 1998.

As expected, the US will dominate online holiday shopping with 70 percent of the world’s e-commerce revenue during the holiday season. Europe is projected to account for 15.5 percent of revenue, while Asia/Pacific should be responsible for 7 percent, according to Dataquest.

“While 1998 was the year that online shopping first rose to prominence in the United States, the 1999 holiday season is shaping up to be the launching point for an explosion of global consumer e-commerce,” said Blaine Mathieu, senior industry analyst for Dataquest. “The mainstream is primed: extensive publicity of consumer e-commerce has significantly raised awareness of online shopping. Increased growth in PCs online and free Internet accounts will greatly increase the total available market of holiday shoppers, particularly outside the United States.”

Dataquest analysts said new technologies will help ignite purchases on the Internet. More specific targeting initiatives to consumers will also spur revenue this year.

“The development of digital wallet and shopping agent technologies has intensified in anticipation of the holiday shopping season, making it even easier for shoppers to quickly locate and purchase desired items. Such technologies are finally being distributed widely to consumers by large financial institutions and credit card issuers,” Mathieu said.

Many Internet retailers also learned hard lessons from last year’s holiday shopping season.

“Reformed by the breakdown of numerous logistical and distribution systems in 1998, most e-tailers have learned to scale their infrastructure to be able to handle the upcoming flood of online sales,” Mathieu said. “This year, significant hiring and large expenditures on new infrastructure will better help companies meet consumer demand.”

Mathieu also predicts that the future course of e-commerce will be shaped by the 1999 holiday season, setting the stage for 2000.

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