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Net Meeting

Let us introduce you to the most important people on the Internet. If you think you know e-commerce consumers, this might surprise you.

By Mark Henricks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Dotcom mania may have ended, but selling products and services online has scarcely begun. In fact, estimates from a variety of sources have total online retail sales increasing approximately 30 percent in 2002. And after years of similarly rapid growth, the absolute numbers aren't tiny either: Projections based on the U.S. Department of Commerce's conservative data reports indicate that online sales of goods and services topped $42 billion in 2002. And the Department of Commerce doesn't include online travel sales, which typically account for 40 percent or more of online revenue.

One thing driving online sales growth is the still-increasing number of people going online. Market trackers at Jupiter Media Metrix forecast the number of online Americans will double in five years to 132 million. Because about half of Internet users buy something online during any particular year, that translates to solid growth for online commerce.

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