Familiar Names Indeed, the Internet revolution will continue with the old guard as its flag bearer.And the presence of traditional companies - with their established brands, marketing savvy, proven business plans and, oh yeah, profits - on the list will surely trend upward. Perhaps no company epitomizes the Old Economy-to-New Economy transformation better than GE, which is easily among the most successful and admired companies in the world. GE is doing an estimated $7.5 billion in online sales. And its wide-ranging Internet initiatives include everything from the NBC Internet media site and AllBusiness.com small-business information portal to the separate GE automotive, plastics and specialty chemicals sites. The companys e-business strategy is threefold: ensure that every GE business has a Web site offering the highest-quality service, sales and support online; migrate internal procurement and supplier resources to the Web to take advantage of increased productivity and cost savings; and participate in ongoing development of new technologies and services that will contribute to online sales growth. At GE, says Manuel Terranova, the companys e-business strategy manager, "e-business is becoming an everyday occurrence throughout the company." But GE is certainly not the only company moving large chunks of its business online. Fifty-seven percent of 331 executives surveyed recently by KPMG say e-business is transforming their company and its role within its industry, affecting processes from procurement to delivery. Even some of the early brick-and-click companies, such as Barnes & Noble, refuse to sit still. The company is launching an effort to more tightly integrate its virtual and physical storefronts. Barnes & Noble says it will install Internet kiosks in its retail superstores and offer discounts designed to promote cross-channel shopping. And, with IDC predicting that the most successful online retailers this holiday season will be those that allow shoppers to return merchandise at a physical location, Barnes & Noble is playing it smart. The company will allow shoppers to return Web purchases at its stores.
While Internet-only brokerages continue to rack up impressive gains, Charles Schwab & Co. is the dominant brokerage site on the Interactive 500. Likewise, online travel is among the few profitable sectors on the Web, and Delta Air Lines delta.com is the top travel destination on the list. Office Depot is the top office supplies site; 1-800-Flowers is the leading floral site; Dow Jones & Co. is the top media site; and Eastman Chemical is the top chemical company. In addition, a number of big retailers, such as Wal-Mart Stores and Kmart, are still in the early stages of their online invasions. While they were not yet willing to break out their online sales figures for the Interactive 500, analysts see both quickly becoming hugely successful sites.