What Will Santa Bring the E-tailers?

Shopping cartSales figures for Christmas ’99 weren’t exactly what the dotcom industry had hoped for. Also, problems with order delivery and fulfillment were highlighted in a study by Andersen Consulting, which found many orders placed online weren’t followed through correctly. However, a Gartner study has tipped sales this Christmas to exceed last years by almost 90 per cent.

Gartner ebusiness analyst Phil Harpur says sales will go up despite some investors and consumers being put off by bad experiences.

“The industry is in such a phenomenal phase of growth [the dissatisfaction] will be negligible. Optimism for ebusiness is still high and the issues from last year were teething problems.”

John Craven, CEO of digital consultancy Spike Cyberworks, says the problems with order fulfillment and customer service were due to bad management.

“People who set up shop to cater to the Christmas rush weren’t retailers,” Craven says, “They were just website builders who thought all they needed to trade is a great website and a system to move stock. As a result, customer service expectations were not met despite use of online manuals, follow-up contact by the vendor and real-time voice contact.”

Harpur is optimistic about the future of ecommerce, saying last year’s experience was a lesson to every dotcom.

“For every dotcom which didn’t get it right, there is a dozen who will,” he says.