A video case study titled Opportunities for investing online; Secrets to success in Chapter # 3, page 144 of the textbook talks about the future of e-commerce. Through the use of my existing knowledge and recent articles in various publications, I have made an attempt to update the above mentioned article.

Electronic commerce, or e-commerce as it is widely known, is a brand new phenomenon in sales and marketing. As per a recent article in the Wall Street Journal dated June 18,1999 titled overall revenues on the net, e-commerce generated about $ 5.9 billion in sales in 1998. This is about 0.2 % of the total retail sales. Further, the same article stated that it is expected that this number will more than double to $11.04 billion and account for about 2.5 % of the total retail sales in 2004. These figures clearly demonstrate the growth potential that e-commerce has.

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But there are various challenges facing the e-commerce companies to be successful and maintain an upward trend in their business. As stated in the textbook article, an idea and courage are now only tiny little factors that can be the decisive points in making it big in e-commerce. The game is now more complex. The needs and expectations of the customers have risen. Todays web savvy buyers want more from shopping online. They want exceptional customer service, fast, on time delivery, good technical support. To add to it, with the number of people switching to the internet to buy or engage in other e-commerce activities (online trading etc.) growing, one of the most important issues for companies, specially those who are big on the internet, is to keep there website up and running all the time. After all, the aim is not only to attract new customers, but to win them for future.

To keep customers happy and shopping, many companies are trying a novel, innovative and unique approach towards customer relations; real people. According to the New York Times dated June 6th, 1999, an article titled e-commerce reports: technology by Bob Tedeshire, e-commerce sites are starting to use live one on one chats and internet telephony applications to answer questions, solve problems, ideally, sell more things to a customer. With every other e-commerce company spending huge sums of money to make their websites more appealing and personal to people, few companies have used technology that allows them to customize their product line to a particular shopper based on his/her pervious shopping history, or needs. They also use special software to respond to a customer inquiry immediately with an e-mail.

As the traffic on the internet is ever increasing, so are the problems for some big volume e-commerce websites. It has become very important for the companies to maintain their websites properly and to keep them up and running at all times. Failure to do so may result in serious losses not only in revenues, but also of potential loyal customers. There are many examples to illustrate such point. In The New York Times dated June 21, 1999, an article titled As internet traffic surges, so do technical problems by Matt Richel reports various such examples of website freezing and shutting down. Companies include E-trade, Charles Schwab, Ebay etc. Among these, take for example Charles Schwab. The # 1 Online Stock Broker has had several website malfunctioning or completely shutting down problems in recent past. On 23rd June , 1999 went down for about 47 minutes during trading hours after a data storage device on one of the mainframe computer locked up.

If such instances continue to occur at an increasing rate, then ultimately shoppers will be forced to go back to the traditional way of shopping. After all, if you can not buy online when ever you want to, or from where ever you want to, then whats the point of having e-commerce?
In the end, with more and more countries joining in with the upward growth in e-commerce, and more and more companies opening up there e-stores , it is very important to provide the shoppers with a pleasant shopping experience, and if we can continue to do that efficiently, then the future of e-commerce looks very promising.