December 31, 2003, 12:00 AM

Looking back with thanks, ahead with enthusiasm

Internet Retailer could not be more grateful for the year we have just enjoyed nor more optimistic about the year that lies ahead.

When we launched this magazine five years ago, we watched it soar like no other publication we had previously introduced. Of course, it was artificially lifted by the market’s bullish enthusiasm for all things Internet. Soon came the realization that the Internet could not possibly meet the unrealistic expectations that fueled the market’s growth. For us, the negative impact of the bursting of an overly inflated Internet balloon was compounded by the worst decline in trade publishing since the Depression.

When directly competing magazines were shut down by the publishing conglomerates that owned them, we hung on despite heavy losses because our investment in this magazine was personal and because we could plainly see that the underlying market we served-online shopping-continued expanding year after year at growth rates that are many times those of conventional merchandising.

Last year, our perseverance paid off. Web retailing in 2003 registered its second consecutive year of 30% growth, fueled by the need in America’s two-income households for time-saving conveniences and by the dramatic improvement in services and systems designed to make web merchandising more workable. For the first time, our own growth rate last year exceeded even that of web retailing-thanks to the support of readers and advertisers like you who share our belief in this market. And, I am pleased to report, we turned our first profit.

So we enter the New Year with realistic expectations of continued growth and with plans to expand our editorial services so that we can properly serve our market’s growing demand for information. We can at last make the enhancements to our web site that we have long intended but previously could not afford. A new series of educational webinars (the first is advertised on page 27) will provide subscribers with web-based access to practical information from industry experts. We are increasing Internet Retailer’s frequency to 12 issues per year with a new edition in July, and as our advertising grows we are expanding our editorial pages and reporting staff in order to continue to deliver on our editorial-first commitment. We have also begun work on an industry directory with financial and operational data on the nation’s top retail web sites. Our mission is to be the leading source of business information on the practical use of the Internet in all phases of retailing, and we intend to reinvest our recently earned profits in order to achieve that goal.

In the last year, many of you have graciously taken time to express your appreciation to me and my partners for the information we provide. We want to thank you for your interest in and loyalty to Internet Retailer. And we hope you will continue contacting us-with words of encouragement for things we do well, with constructive criticism in areas where we can improve and with ideas for new initiatives that will meet your informational needs.

From all of us at Internet Retailer, we extend our very best wishes to you for continued success in the New Year.

Jack Love

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