Despite slumping economy, e-commerce still growing

The number of Americans buying online will double from 64.1 million as of 2000 to 130 million by 2005, according to a report by research firm eMarketer Inc.

Fear of credit card number theft still remains a concern, however.

The report, which aggregates and analyzes data from more than 100 research organizations, has varying e-commerce estimates for the year 2001 in the United States, with numbers ranging from US$37.1 billion by Direct Marketing Association Inc. to $117 billion by Keenan Vision Inc., according to eMarketer.eMarketer's own estimate is that U.S. business-to-consumer revenues, which totaled $38.3 billion in 2000, will quadruple to $156 billion by 2005.

The Internet, according to eMarketer, is being accepted and is evolving as a key distribution channel for traditional merchants. Lines are blurring between traditional business operations and Internet pure-plays, the company said.

Other highlights of eMarketer's report include the following:

Visa International Inc. places online credit card fraud rates at between 25 cents to 28 cents per every $100 charged, significantly higher than the 7 cents for all transactions.

Jupiter Media Metrix Inc. found that consumers are "overwhelmingly" fearful about theft of credit card data online. Nearly 81 percent of U.S. consumers are afraid their number will be intercepted online.

The number of U.S. Internet users, noted as 116.5 million in 2000, will jump to 184.1 million by 2005.

Alexa Research reports that 33 sites in the top 50 e-commerce sites have multi-channel operations while only 17 are pure dot-coms.

Giga Information Group Inc. reports that click-and-mortar companies will dominate Internet sales again in 2001, as they did in 2000.

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