Archive of Past Articles
Christmas Commerce Heats Up OnlineBy Tony French, Forum Manager
The familiar Christmas refrain of
"Shop, shop, shop" is being sung to a slightly different tune this year by shop
owners themselves. Retailers are realising that a web site can give consumers far more
detailed information about products, and faster access to a range of goods, than
traditional retail stores. Add in lower operating costs for online stores, and the result
is a trend where retailers may prefer customers to visit their web sites rather than their
And, retailers know that Christmas
is the perfect time to capture new visitors and turn them into long-term Internet
customers. As consumers become more accustomed to spending money over the Internet and the
time for holiday shopping shortens, its a great opportunity to turn Internet
browsers into Internet shoppers.
According to Internet World, online
shopping sites last Christmas experienced a huge increase in sales; total Internet
expenditure in the weeks before Christmas rose from a 1997 figure of $2.7 billion to a
1998 figure of $800 billion. With a growth trend like that, its no surprise that
savvy British retailers are going all out this season to steer traffic to their sites.
And the bonus for British consumers
is more goods online from trusted retailers for easy shopping and easy delivery. Major
players like Boots, Drinks Direct, and Waterstones have joined the lineup at Christmas UK, taking out virtual
"storefronts" on a winter-wonderland High Street. For these retailers, its
another channel to lure Christmas shoppers into their web sites. Giftstore UK also offers a shopping mall model,
bringing a wide assortment of gift giving opportunities to shoppers all under one roofthe
Giftstore UK web site.
Following on the heels of one of the
greatest Internet success stories to date is Amazon.co.uk.
This online booksellers American parent company (at amazon.com) is the top shopping
site on the Internet. With $304 million in sales this year, the site regularly reaches
somewhere between 8% and 10% of all Internet surfers each month. The company has launched
Amazon sites in the UK and Denmark to offer the same great shopping and services in
Europe, and is enjoying its initial success.
Will British consumers do their part
in making this Christmas another record breaker? Certainly, indicators look promising. The
spread of Internet technology, the growing acceptance of Internet commerce, and the boom
in the number of UK stores online all point to a very, very jolly New Year for UK
Tony French previously managed The Microsoft
Network's UK Business & Finance forum, and is the Managing Director of AF Stocktaking.