Winter of Your Content

Even with recent events, your e-tailing site can do well this season.

Let's face it: 2001 was probably one of the worst business years in recent memory. Most e-tailers in the United States experienced lower-than-expected revenues, layoffs and an overwhelmingly negative business climate. And in September, an already bad situation worsened with the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

"The negative impact the terrorist attacks had on the economy could significantly slow spending in the retail sector as a whole, which could also inhibit sales growth during the holidays for online retailers," says Heather Dougherty, a retail analyst at Jupiter Media Metrix in New York City. But the year isn't over yet. You may still be able to squeeze a little profit out of 2001.


24%
is the percentage per year the U.S. network security sector is expected to grow between now and 2005.
SOURCE: IDC

Many online companies lost a lot of money during the past two years because they didn't have their online operations-including customer service and back-end fulfillment departments-ready when the holidays hit. You simply can't afford to allow that to happen again this year. After all, there will be some money to be made over the next few weeks. The latest figures show that e-commerce sales overall have actually grown since last year.

Although the terrorist attacks temporarily interfered with online retail sales, purchases have since gone back to normal. ComScore Networks Inc., an Internet measurement firm in Reston, Virginia, watched sales one-tailing sites drop dramatically during the first few days following the attacks, then bounce back later in the week as shoppers flocked back online.

According to Richard A. Feinberg, director of Purdue University's Center for Customer Driven Quality in West Lafayette, Indiana, "Consumers may have money [during the holiday season] that they did not spend in stores because of the tragic events. So we could see a positive retail rebound in the fourth quarter." This news is especially positive for online retailers. "In the wake of the terrorist attacks," he continues, "there is a certain amount of nesting going on, and people may want to stay home and shop online for the holidays instead of going out."

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Melissa Campanelli is a technology writer in Brooklyn, New York, who has covered technology for Mobile Computing & Communications and Sales & Marketing Management magazines. You can reach her at mcampanelli@earthlink.net.

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This article was originally published in the December 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Winter of Your Content.

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