E-commerce will become profitable for some companies, especially in the next four to eight years, not only because of advances in technology, but also because that's when there will be a new generation of consumers - today's generation of Nintendo and Game Boy warriors who have grown up 'pointing and clicking'.
I don't like the term 'tech-wreck' for the share-market crash that saw hundreds of online businesses bite the dust. It was more a much-needed 'tech-check', shaking out the online 'cowboys' who were out to make a short-term fortune. Yes, a lot of ordinary investors did lose their money as well but, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
As a shopper on the Internet, the thought of sending a credit card number into cyberspace makes many people baulk; indeed some people simply refuse to do it. However, using your credit card on the Internet is no less secure than using it over the phone or fax.
Yes, there's stacks to buy on the Internet - wine, CDs, books, lingerie, flowers, real estate, second-hand goods, cars, travel - almost at all, apart from a haircut, and often at a discounted price. However, online shopping hasn't taken off as quickly as many predicted. The theory behind online shopping is sound. The vendors can afford to offer discounts because they are saving on office or shop rental, staff and sales commissions. The purchasers can save time and money by buying direct from their home or office computer. It sounds a simple and workable system, but I believe there are three main reason why Internet shopping hasn't boomed yet.
Electronic mail has to be IT's "killer app" (to use another irritating abbreviation for an "outstanding application of technology"). It's one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to communicate and send/receive data. You can send several messages for the cost of a phone call and in far less time than it takes to write a traditional letter.
Well firstly, the Internet is something that has introduced a whole lot of new terms into our vocabulary, such as e-mail, e-commerce, tech-wreck, and e-tail. And there has been an influx of time-saving and irritating abbreviations like IT (Information Technology), B2B (business-to-business), B2C (Business-to-consumer), 24 x 265 (twenty-four hours a day, year-round service), clicks n bricks (a traditional retail outlet coupled with an online presence) and FAQs (frequently asked questions). Interestingly, the abbreviation www takes longer to say than "World Wide Web".
So many Internet companies showed that even many of the so-called experts didn't have much of a grasp of online potential or reality.
There's no doubt about it though, the advent of the Internet has changed our lives forever: how we conduct business with other businesses and even how we date. It can be fun, educational and a useful and profitable tool but, for most of us, it has become and will remain part of our lives, not run our lives.
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