August 12, 2002, 12:00 AM

Our 2003 Buyers Guide: Market Barometer

The market for systems and services designed to help retailers and catalogers compete on the web and use the Internet effectively in other operations is extremely dynamic and competitive.

The 2003 Internet Retailer Buyers Guide-the fourth edition of this annual e-retailing shopping guide-is by far the most robust we have produced. It sets new records in the number of vendors listed (515), the number of distinct product and service categories (57) included and the number of paid listings (110). Indeed, expressed in total dollars, paid listings in this year’s guide are up a stunning 39% from last year. Not bad for a recession economy.

What are we to read into this? Obviously, it means that the market for systems and services designed to help retailers and catalogers compete on the web and use the Internet effectively in other operations is extremely dynamic and competitive. Anyone examining the contents of this Buyers Guide cannot help but conclude that the Internet retailing systems market has become extremely sophisticated, diversified and deep in a very short span. Keep in mind that this highly developed marketplace barely existed in the mid-1990s, and now it is arguably the basis of all retail systems.

This year’s Buyers Guide also reflects the conviction on the part of vendors that next year’s expenditure on e-retailing products and services will grow dramatically. Vendors experienced in the use of trade publications for promoting their products know full well that annual buyers guides are used by subscribers as shopping guides for an entire year, and that is particularly true of this Buyers Guide, which profiles a new and rapidly changing market. Since this guide (in both its printed form and in the online version at internetretailer.com) will be used by retailers and catalogers as they shop for web-based systems and services for the next 12 months, the advertising investment in this year’s guide represents the vendors’ first shot to influence these purchases. Hence, the fact that advertisers increased their overall spending in the 2003 Buyers Guide by 50% from last year is a very good harbinger for the Internet retailing market.

In addition to what it says about the market, the increased size and scope of this year’s Buyers Guide is a nice reflection on something else-the hard work and attention to detail of Judy Dellert, our Marketplace advertising director, who spent much of the last three months putting this issue together. All who advertised in this issue know just how dedicated Judy is to understanding and serving their needs in an efficient, timely and extremely friendly manner. She is a professional in every sense of the word, and we are proud to have her on our team.

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