Is It the End of the eCommerce World as We Know It?



By Brittany Thompson

The New York Times stirred up a bit of controversy today by publishing an article claiming that the eCommerce industry is slowing down. Referring to the current state of online sales as “the Dot Calm Era,” the article uses current trends, research statistics and even word-of-mouth to back this theory.

“Growth in online sales has also dropped dramatically in diverse categories like health and beauty products, computer peripherals and pet supplies,” the article states. “Analysts say it is a turning point and growth will continue to slow through the decade.”

A report released on Wednesday by market research company Forrester Research anticipates online sales will rise 18 percent in 2007. Online sales, including travel, are expected to reach $259 billion by the end of this year, with apparel leading the way. Looking at the bright side, the online retail business is not on a downslide. On the contrary, eBusiness is still growing – even if it’s not growing as quickly as previous years.

While the New York Times article discusses how San Francisco retailers are trying to get more in-store shoppers by “livening up” their stores and trying “to be more alluring,” it fails to mention the fact that most online businesses have been doing the same thing. Rich media content, more accessible designs, and hip, vibrant colors are all common themes among online retailers.

Critics believe that the New York Times might be publishing the article as a way of blaming online retail woes for its own financial struggles or using hype to gain readers. Over at Threadwatch.org, “lots0” was skeptical: “The NYT is looking at huge losses… Gee, I wonder why they would spread false rumors that the end of the Internet as we know it is near, very near.”

Meanwhile, “ghoti” took a very hopeful approach after reading the article:

“There’s no decline in sales… It’s just a slower increase in sales. … Why would it surprise anyone that growth slows down as you reach higher market penetration?”

Taking all of this into consideration, I think it’s fitting to end with one of my personal favorite R.E.M. lyrics:

“It’s [not] the end of the [eCommerce] world as we know it… and I feel fine.”

About Brittany Thompson

Brittany Thompson is the founder of SEOForumWatch.com as well as a graphic and web designer. In addition to writing for Marketing Pilgrim, she’s been published by WebProNews and WebProWorld.

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  1. [...] Brittany Thompson makes a guest post on the Marketing Pilgrim about the end of the ecommerce era. (Hasn’t it ended in June 2000? No? Oh, weird). [...]

  2. [...] The New York Times caused a bit of a stir yesterday when they published an article headlined “Online Sales Losing Steam” where they proceeded to all but foresee with their magical truth-telling crystals the death of shopping online. Using research statistics, market trends, and even interviews to illustrate a slowing online growth, they attempted to downplay as much as possible that the market is still growing at a rate that would make quite a few markets offline sob with glee. Is this slowdown a turning point for eCommerce? Well, the Times sure wants you to think so. Obviously, the growth of several markets in eCommerce are slowing, but certainly not going away. This response to the article notes, A report released on Wednesday by market research company Forrester Research anticipates online sales will rise 18 percent in 2007. Online sales, including travel, are expected to reach $259 billion by the end of this year, with apparel leading the way. Looking at the bright side, the online retail business is not on a downslide. [...]

  3. [...] Is It the End of the eCommerce World as We Know It? [...]