November 1, 2010, 12:00 AM

Publisher's Letter: E-commerce research everyone can afford

Taken together, our research guides comprise the largest database of e-commerce information on the market.

Since we published the first edition of our popular Top 500 Guide six years ago (it was called The Top 300 then), Internet Retailer has grown its research organization every bit as much as it has its respected news reporting operation and industry-leading conference business. This growth has been driven by our belief that an emerging industry like e-commerce needs objective and intelligent market research to inform competitors about the growth of different segments of their business, to identify the players who are growing at the fastest rates and to track key metrics that reveal changing consumer behaviors and competitive strategies.

We followed up the Top 300 Guide with the Top 400 Guide and in 2006 introduced the first annual Top 500 Guide, now the leading research publication in e-commerce. Each year it ranks, profiles and provides 200 facts about each of the nation's 500 largest e-retailers. More recently, we have introduced other annual guides that provide detailed, original research on retail search marketing, web design and usability, and e-commerce technology. And last month, we published the first ever research guide detailing the operations of more than 300 mobile commerce businesses in the U.S.

We intend to continue on this expansion path. We are planning on greatly accelerating our research program next year with the publication in February of the first directory that ranks, profiles and provides key operating data on Europe's leading e-retailers. And soon after we publish the 2011 Edition of the Top 500 Guide in May, we will introduce the Next 500 Guide, which will for the first time rank, profile and detail the operations of second-tier e-retailers who rank between 501 and 1,000.

Eventually, all of these research publications will be made available in both print and online versions. The online guides will be modeled after the Top500Guide.com, a database product which provides all the information in the printed book and allows users to organize that data as they wish to generate custom research reports that meet their unique data needs.

Taken together, our research guides comprise the largest database of e-commerce information on the market. But that's not their most notable characteristic. Other research and consulting organizations sell their proprietary e-commerce reports at prices that range from several hundred to several thousands of dollars, well outside the affordable range for most e-retailers and e-commerce executives. By comparison, our detailed and comprehensive research guides, which range in size from 200 to 450 pages, are all priced well under $100, typically in the $59 to $69 range.

We could price them many times higher than that and make a nice profit providing original market research to a small list of well-heeled e-commerce clients. But that's not who we are. With 44,000 subscribers, our Internet Retailer magazine is the largest-circulation periodical in e-commerce, and its companion, IRNewsLink, is the largest daily e-commerce newsletter with 40,000 subscribers. Our InternetRetailer.com web site is also the most frequently visited information web site in the business.

Our journalistic mission is to provide news and analysis of e-commerce trends and technologies to the greatest number of e-retailers we can possibly reach. That approach also guides our expanding research business as well. We want all competitors in the highly diverse and decentralized market of e-commerce to be armed with the same amount of competitive data that typically only the largest competitors have access to. That levels the playing field and helps all competitors—from the smallest to the largest—to operate vibrant e-retailing businesses, and in the process advances the development of the entire industry.

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