E-Commerce: Its Only a Success

There was a story in a big daily newspaper the other day that stated that only 65 percent of the people on the Web shop while they're online.

There was a story in a big daily newspaper the other day that stated that only 65 percent of the people on the Web shop while theyre online.

Notice the word "only."

Whats the thinking here? (Is there any thinking here?) If only 65 percent of the people who visited any other community stopped to make a purchase, the local merchants would be screaming like a half-crazed Powerball lottery winner who put up his or her last buck for a ticket.

But 65 percent on the Web is no longer good enough?

Let me try to follow the logic here.

In compiling this years Interactive 500, we found that revenue for the top 500 e-commerce companies doubled from roughly $180 billion last year to more than $370 billion this year.

But I guess, to some, the Interactive 500 generated only $370 billion in online revenue.

We also found that many corporate giants — such as Enron — have been transformed into e-commerce juggernauts. The $170 billion energy powerhouse now does about three-quarters of its business online.

Or should we say only three-quarters of its business online?

For other corporate mainstays, the Web is now the best part of their business. In its most recent quarter, ended Sept. 29, Office Depot reported relatively flat year-over-year sales of $2.8 billion. However, its worldwide e-commerce sales grew 60 percent, to $402 million.

Oh, wait. Sorry, sorry. Its e-commerce sales grew only 60 percent.

And we discovered that e-commerce is one of the few high-tech bright spots. Cisco Systems e-commerce numbers went from $15 billion to $20.7 billion, while IBMs shot up from $17 billion to $26 billion.

But I guess those numbers should be stated as only $20.7 billion and only $26 billion.

I think you can see how ludicrous this starts to look.

Yes, dot-com excesses left many with an Internet hangover. Many failed e-tailers had unsound, if not dangerously irresponsible, business plans. But dot-coms are only a slice of e-tailing, which itself is only one part — and the lesser part at that — of the e-commerce whole.

Brick-and-click operations are wildly successful — pulling in sales, making money and becoming the norm in most American markets. Even smart e-tailers, such as eBay, are proving to have business models that are not only solid, but virtually recessionproof. And business-to-business e-commerce is expected to hit the trillion-dollar mark soon.

Hey, I dont mean to pick on just one word in one sentence in one article. But lately, Ive been seeing more pieces presented by the general media that dismiss e-commerce as something of a failed business model when, of course, its nothing of the sort. To start throwing words like "only" in front of any e-commerce numbers — especially those that show incredible success — isnt just misleading, its just plain wrong.

But hey, thats only my opinion.