January 24, 2006, 12:00 AM

Optimism up among online retailers, Shop.org speakers say

With more than three-fourths of online retailers reporting year-over-year sales growth of 30% or more during the 2005 holiday season, optimism is up to over 80% of e-retailers, according to a Shopzilla research study.

With more than three-fourths of online retailers reporting year-over-year sales growth of 30% or more during the 2005 holiday season, optimism is up to over 80% of e-retailers, according to a Shopzilla research study. Most are looking to continued growth driven by increases in broadband web access and customer confidence, speakers at the Shop.org FirstLook conference said today.

Gian Fulgoni, chairman of comScore Networks Inc., said online retail’s current 5.5% share of total retail sales doesn’t appear ready to level off. “There is a lot of upside,” he said. “We’ll see continued growth for years to come,”

Fulgoni, who appeared on a panel with representatives of Amazon, J. Jill , QVC, Jupiter Research and Nielsen/NetRatings, agreed with other panelists that continued online sales growth will be driven by the expansion of broadband web access in homes, the rising comfort level of online shoppers, and the next generation of adult consumers who are already accustomed to using the Internet through conventional computers and wireless handheld devices.

Robert Myers, vice president of interactive marketing and business development, QVC Inc., said that QVC.com is seeing its sharpest year-to-year growth in the 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. time slot, reflecting the rise in home broadband access. Myers said retailers will spur growth by investing in better site usability and site analytics as well as quality products. “That will really drive sales," he said. Steven Goldsmith, vice president for apparel, footwear, jewelry and watches at Amazon, said Amazon sold 600,000 gift cards between Thanksgiving and Christmas. “That is partly why the first half of January has been so good,” he said.

The Shopzilla study notes customer satisfaction with online retailing reached 96% as of Jan. 12, up from 86% last year. The Shopzilla study was based on surveys conducted from Sept. 23 to Jan. 12. The latest wave of the survey occurred among 2,500 online buyers and 104 merchants between Jan. 9 and 12.

Robert Myers is also speaking at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition June 5-7 in Chicago, in a session entitled “When TV and the Internet Merge, Web Shopping Explodes.”

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