$40 billion by 2002

Electronic commerce, or “ecommerce” as it is now known, promises to provoke changes in business and consumer practices that could rival those of the industrial revolution. According to a forecast published by the META Group, global ecommerce volume will exceed $40 billion by 2002.

In its report, the U.S. information technology company notes that numerous new technologies will simplify ecommerce for both consumers and business. Ecommerce itself is already a distinct retail industry sector, much like the downtown store or the suburban discount warehouse. As more and more consumers see the convenience and speed of ecommerce, sales volumes continue to rise.

The report notes that common, cross-industry business issues are driving the ecommerce market, including customer self-service, supply chain/inventory management, procurement, and online selling. And, like any other new way of marketing and selling goods and services, the success of any ecommerce operation will depend on the good old fundamentals.

“The success of any electronic commerce service will be determined by how well it fulfills a designated strategy and delivers desired business results — not by how many Java alets or streaming media feeds it contains,” said Peter Burris, META Group senior vice president and co-research director.

In plain English, it all boils down to whether ecommerce sites give consumers the essential three: quality, value and service.