U.S. online retail sales are expected to reach $65 billion in 2004, and will continue to grow by a compound annual growth rate of 17 percent through 2008 to top $117 billion, according to a report issued from Jupiter Research. As consumers’ level of comfort with online functions such as e-mail and research continues to increase, so too will their level of participation in e-commerce.
The next five years will see large growth in e-commerce — growth that could positively impact small businesses that have established themselves as legitimate, trustworthy merchants.
According to the report, “Market Forecast: U.S. Retail 2004-2008,” the growth in online retail will be due in part to new online buyers, not just veterans, who have come to embrace the medium. Jupiter expects that the online buying population will grow by 14 percent in 2004, representing 30 percent of the U.S. population. By 2008, one-half of the population will make purchases online.
As more and more new online users convert to online shoppers, small e-commerce businesses ultimately will benefit, said Jupiter Research analyst Patti Freeman Evans. “SMB’s benefit, as all businesses do, with greater adoption of online purchase and reduced fear. [However] Small retailers need to ensure that consumers have every reason to trust them,” Evans said.
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