One of the fastest growing industries today is electronic commerce. Almost anything can be purchased, traded, or sold all via the Internet. A person sitting in their living room dressed in pajamas on a rainy Saturday morning in mid December can hookup to the internet and place their bid on a new chess set for the holidays without ever setting foot in the department stores. They can pay for it with their credit card through a secure transaction and have it delivered right to their door in a couple of days for less than they could get it retail. An article by Jan Thomas said that the electronic commerce industry is booming and that it has grown at an alarming rate of over 2000 percent since last year. She continued to say that she predicts that it will continue to grow at an even faster rate, as more and more products become available online and that knowledge of Internet commerce is really happening. (34)
One of the major reasons that this industry is booming is because purchasing over the Internet has been made very easy compared to the traditional way of shopping. Ordinarily a consumer will take the kids and pile in the family car and head to the local shopping mall. Once they get there they will find what they are looking for only to be told by the rude, pushy sales person that it is out of stock. After they get pushed into something other than what they came for they will wait in a line similar to that of Space Mountain at Disney World. Finally they will head for home after spending about an average of 2.5 hours (Sparkman 24). On the other hand, shopping on the Internet is takes no time at all. The consumer would log on to their Internet service provider and point their browser to one of many places depending on their needs. They can read about the product features and benefits, see how it compared to other models in similar price ranges and even see color pictures. If they want to purchase it, they can use their credit card without fear that the numbers will fall into the wrong hands. This is all done in much less time than it takes to just drive to the mall.
Another reason for the boom in online commerce is the fact that the price of computers has been driven down by the Asian economy crisis. Families who could not afford a computer in the past now can. This holiday season the local Best Buy had a computer system advertised for $499.98, which included a monitor and a printer. This time last year the lowest price on a complete system was around $1199.98. According to a recent study by the Duncan group, only thirty-five percent of American households currently have a computer. About six percent of them even knew that they could really purchase online. When asked if they would consider purchasing online, and overwhelming sixty-seven percent said they would defiantly look on the Internet before going to the department stores (34-35E). According to one Best Buy store manager, they have been selling computers at a rate of about 40-60 computers per day. As prices continue to fall and more and more houses are equipped with the ability to shop online, we will continue to see the rapid growth of this industry.
There are the critics who say that electronic commerce is not the way of the future. They believe that it is just not the same to attempt to purchase something over the Internet. One person told me that trying to buy something through electronic commerce was like shopping at Dillards after they have closed. He had some questions on compatibility and there was nobody to help him. I agreed that in certain instances shopping online might not be the right thing for every purchase, however it was much faster than conventional shopping and he was not pushed into spending more than he was prepared to. Another critic said that she just does not think that her credit card numbers are safe being sent across the phone lines. I had explained that wherever she uses her credit cards they too use the phone lines to transmit the numbers for approval just as the Internet would. Also, most reputable online companies use some type of encryption software that was made especially for electronic commerce. A spokesman from IBM says that Internet security is ‘the best is has ever been. If the banks trust it, why shouldn’t you.’; (Segal 45-46)
Be on the lookout for more and more advertisements about online commerce. Just think, as more and more companies develop their online divisions, you will soon have the ability to shop anywhere in the world right from the comfort of you own home. Things that were only available in other parts of the country and other parts of the world will soon be available to you all at your convenience and rght from home. It will happen. It is happening now.
Duncan Group. ‘American Electronics Survey.’; Wall Street Journal 14 November 1998. 34-34E.
Sparkman, Guy. ‘Shopping this Holiday Season, Watch out!’; Sun- Sentinal Special edition 23 November 1998. 24.
Segal, Hy. ‘IBM Security Software is hot stuff.’; Byte August 1998. 45-46.
Thomas, Jan. ‘Online commerce in he 90’s. Are you ready?’; E-Com September 1998. 34.