November 30, 2004, 12:00 AM

These are very happy holidays

As the year draws to a close, those of us who are dedicated to web-based retailing have every reason to celebrate this holiday season.

As the year draws to a close, those of us who are dedicated to web-based retailing have every reason to celebrate this holiday season. E-retailers this year continue to watch their market grow at an annual rate of about 30%, six times the growth rate of the overall retailing market. With online sales now accounting for about 5% of all retail sales, this industry has entered the mainstream of retailing, a business that no longer can be viewed as a sideline. If a merchant does not put online retailing at the core of its growth strategy, it is missing the point that online retailing is the fastest growing retailing channel.

The companies which run the retail web sites featured in this 6th annual Top 50 issue obviously get that point. They have invested in the resources necessary to earn our “Best of the Web” designation, and they are leading this industry by raising the performance standard. They no doubt have done so because they share our belief that the channel shift we have seen from traditional retailing to the web is just beginning.

All signs point to continued above-average growth for the web merchandising channel. Broadband penetration of American households-now at 50%-continues its dramatic expansion. The hectic pace of our lives, the growth in the two-income household, and $2-a-gallon gas prices all build momentum for the convenience of online shopping from home or office. And the echo boomer generation that will soon enter adulthood is different from all others in one key respect-they spend more time on the web than in front of that certain other tube.

To provide further evidence of the growth of this industry, I point to something a bit closer to home-Internet Retailer. With the very successful launch of our Top 300 Guide, the explosive growth of our web site (monthly visits to which are now running at 300,000), the 15% expansion of our IRNewsLink opt-in e-mail subscriber base to 32,000, and the continued development of advertising in this magazine, we are ending a very productive year. Our total revenue has increased by one-third in 2004.

Like online merchants, we are making the investments needed to continue this growth next year. Next month, we will launch our new 2005 Guide to E-Retailing Resources and a third weekly edition of IRNewsLink, this one focused on the people who drive this business. Soon, we will begin marketing of another major initiative, our first conference and exhibition scheduled for June in Chicago.

To prepare for and facilitate this growth, we have recently added to our staff. This month, we welcome Ed McKinley, who joins Internet Retailer as a senior editor. Ed has spent most of his 25-year career as a journalist covering retailing and marketing for various trade magazines, including a stint as editor of Card Marketing, one of the publications of Faulkner & Gray, our management team’s previous publishing venture. Last month, we hired another Faulkner & Gray alumna, Sue Kroeger, who now serves as our director of administration. Earlier this fall, we welcomed Steve Rogers to the Internet Retailer advertising sales force, which now boasts four full time advertising managers. Steve, who has considerable experience in software sales management, has assumed responsibility for our Marketplace advertising, which also includes our monthly Product & Service Guides.

The e-merchants who make up this year’s Top 50 understand that making significant investments must be the mission of those seeking to lead a market. So do we.

Jack Love, Publisher

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