Online Retailing in North America to Hit $61 Billion

Even as some research firms warn of an imminent shake-out in the world of
e-commerce, along comes another rosy study predicting that B2C online
retailing this year will climb to $61 billion in North America alone, up from
$33 billion last year.

The figures were released by, the trade association for online
retailers, and come from “The State of Online Retailing 3.0,” a study
conducted by The Boston Consulting Group.

Based on data from 412 online retailers, the study showed that total 1999
online business-to-consumer revenues across all categories grew 120 percent
to $33.1 billion, representing 1.4 percent of all retail sales.

An additional $13.1 billion was spent by businesses (as opposed to consumers)
at retail Web sites in such categories as travel, office supplies and
computer software.

In 2000, the market is expected to grow 85 percent and surpass $61
billion in revenues, the study predicts. said that “these results are the most definitive market sizing
figures currently available, as they incorporate the largest sample size of
any private-sector research firm. The results also include $6.8 billion in
revenues generated by nontraditional retailers, such as manufacturers and
person-to- person auctions which are omitted by the US Census Bureau and
other researchers.”

“While financial markets for online stocks are in turmoil, the underlying
growth of the online retailing industry continues unabated,” said David
Pecaut, senior vice president and global co-leader of The Boston Consulting
Group’s E-Commerce Practice.
“Online retailing is here to stay and will continue to gain significant share
in 2000.”

Perhaps, but growing pains are likely, at least according to Forrester Research, which recently
released its own report predicting that “the combination of weak financials,
increasing competitive pressures and investor flight will drive most of
today’s dot-com retailers out of business by 2001.”

“While some online retailers have had to revisit their business plans and
revenue models simply to remain in the game, others have shown tremendous
revenue growth in the past six months,” said Donna Iucolano, head of’s Committee on Internet Shopping Research. “The rest of this year
promises to be a roller-coaster for e-commerce companies; however, those
companies with a strong consumer focus and an eye toward maximizing profits
will come through unscathed.”

According to the report, the continued growth of the online retail market is
a result of the boom in the online population, an increasing number of
off-line retailers establishing a strong presence online, and the emergence
of new nontraditional retail business models. These new players, which
include auctions, buying groups, and manufacturers and distributors that sell
directly to the consumer, accounted for more than 35 percent of
products sold online in 1999.

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