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Taking Your Business to the Net

If you're getting sick of the same old business ideas, then it's time to go online. The robust e-commerce market is hotter than ever, and it just may be the cure for what ails you.

This story appears in the January 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

According to any given expert, e-commerce sites have grabbed the same share of retail sales it took catalog companies nearly a century to achieve. While business and technology market-research analysts like Jupitermedia admit online sales account for a relatively modest piece of the retail market at roughly 2 percent, the medium has become invaluable for researching purchases. By 2008, Jupitermedia predicts 30 percent of all retail sales will be influenced by the time consumers spend online.

Another proof point: For the fourth quarter of 2004-retail's biggest season-eMarketer, a source for research, data and analysis on e-business, anticipated a 27.4 percent year-over-year jump in online sales to more than $22.3 billion, excluding travel or auction transactions. If you're wondering just how much more potential exists, online auction powerhouse eBay facilitated $8.3 billion in goods traded in the third quarter of 2004, according to a recent financial report.

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