Your Business Online | Professional Jeweler

June 13, 2001
E-Commerce Trends for Early 2001
Online sales reports show e-commerce is continuing to grow as expected

Despite the recent economic slowdown, e-commerce sales are growing and online users are continuing to embrace e-commerce. According to Forrester Research, online spending and the average amount spent per online shopper increased in April. Total online sales reached $4.3 billion, up from $3.5 billion in March. Online jewelry sales were $104.5 million in February, $85.1 million in March and $104.3 million in April. The number of households shopping online in April increased to 15.6 million, and the average online shopper spent $273 online in April – an increase as well.

Other notable online sales statistics are:

  • The U.S. Department of Commerce reported e-commerce sales for the first quarter of 2001 reached nearly $7 billion, a 33.5% increase from the first quarter of 2000. However, first quarter sales were down 19.3% compared to the fourth quarter of 2000.
  • Boston Consulting Group reported online customer conversion rates increased to 2.3% in the first quarter – conversion rates were only 1.5% a year before. Also, customer acquisition costs in the first quarter were down 60% from one year ago.
  • The Yankee Group found shopping portals, including America Online and Yahoo, experienced faster sales growth during the holiday season than other e-tailers.
  • Jupiter Media Metrix reported more bricks-and-mortar retailer Web sites ranked in the top 50 retail sites than Internet-only retail sites in March.
The online audience didn't change much during early 2001. Telecommunications Reports International, a Washington research company, reported residential Internet use declined 0.3% in the first quarter – the first time Internet use declined since the group began tracking it. Some industry analysts see the decline as the beginning of an Internet slowing trend, but most blame the decline on the demise of many free Internet services. During the first quarter, the number of paid Internet subscribers increased and analysts expect the number of Internet users will continue to grow, but a trend won't be clear until summer.

The 25-34 year-old age group remains the largest age group online. However, the number of Internet users 18-24 years old and those over 55 years old continues to grow, Jupiter reports. Jupiter's surveys also found overall Internet use grew 19% in April. The group predicts 52% of the online population will be shopping online by 2002. Roughly 40% of the online population had shopped online in 2000.

AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft continue to be the three most popular Web sites. Those three plus Napster in March together controlled over 50% of the time U.S. Web surfers spent online. Two years ago, 11 sites controlled 50% of surfers' online time. Napster's rankings have since declined. The top 10 Internet retail sites for April, ranked by total sales, were:
Notable sites in the top 50 Web sites for May, ranked by the number of unique visitors, were:
  • 5 - (Note: This retail site's pop-up ads have helped it jump from no. 14 in April, and 95% of the site's traffic comes from people who click on its pop-up ads.)
  • 9 -
  • 12 - eBay
  • 31 -
  • 36 -
  • 42 -

- by Julia M. Duncan