September 15, 2005, 12:00 AM

Wiring into broadband and Really Simple Syndication

Within the near future, RSS and broadband Internet will have a substantial impact on web retailers and their operations, market researchers and analysts predicted Wednesday at

With the constant e-commerce hardware and software updates vendors and others throw at Internet retailers, web merchants tend to be skeptical when they are told to keep their eye “on the next big thing.”

But there are some upcoming technology trends, particularly broadband Internet connectivity and Really Simple Syndication (RSS), that bear close scrutiny, a panel of research analysts told attendees Wednesday at the 2005 Annual Summit in Las Vegas.

RSS, a family of XML file formats for Internet syndication used primarily by news sites and blogs, is only actively used by about 2% of the U.S. adult population, says Carrie Johnson, a research analyst with Forrester Research. But the segment of the population using RSS, younger men with higher household incomes and college education, may be a harbinger of more younger Internet shoppers who see RSS as a better way to communicate with merchants, receive product updates and promotions from retailers and shop online. “The 2% of the population we are talking about here are active online shoppers and wealthy,” Johnson says.

As web retailers look for alternative forms of marketing to the rising costs of paid search, Johnson says that over time RSS may supplement or even surpass e-mail as a cost-effective way for merchants to reach affulent interactive buyers. “RSS is a simpler technology and easier to manage than e-mail,” Johnson says. “This gives RSS priority over blogs and social networking sites. Retailers can provide feeds for product availabilty, promotions, price changes and loyalty program updates.”

Online retailers also need to build more of their merchandising initiatives with broadband in mind, says eMarketer CEO Geoff Ramsey. Within the next several years almost two-thirds of all U.S. households will connect to the Internet using a broadband connection. “Broadband users spend 40% to 50% more in a given quarter online than do their dial-up counterparts,” Ramsey says.

Among other things broadband over time will enable web retailers to improve their merchandising operations using more virtual reality applications, Ramsey says.


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