E-tailing goes global

To say that online retailing underwent a transformation in 2000 would be major understatement. It was a year of devastating defeat for many pure-play e-tailers, and a year of caution - some would say retreat - for the investment community, according to Ernst & Young. At the same time, it was a year in which companies recognised that online retailing is no longer an option: it is a business requirement. Numerous department store, broad-line, and consumer products companies brought their brands online, and many more click-and-bricks companies expanded their merchandise assortments online, catering to customers who are spending more on a wider range of product categories.

Certainly, this transformation is not over. As Ernst & Young's research shows, we are in only the "second innings" of this game, and the industry will continue to transform itself in the years to come.

In October and November 2000, Ernst & Young researched consumers and retail companies in 12 countries. The surveys showed that overall, consumers continue to be very satisfied with the online channel. While they are concerned with shipping costs and are price-sensitive generally, they continue to buy online in increasing numbers, and they are spending more on a greater range of merchandise categories. Traditional brick-and-mortar companies, recognising that online retailing is now a requirement, are moving aggressively into the channel, and they are optimistic about the future of multi-channel retailing.

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