Speaking at the UK Technology Week exhibition yesterday, Phil Wade, Marketing Director for UK ISP Planet Online, predicted a massive increase in e-commerce for business and consumers over the next nine months with potential casualties among high street shops.
According to Wade, interest from businesses in e-commerce is growing daily: "If I invited people to a conference on e-commerce today, I could fill the Albert Hall," he said. But even with the Great Hall filled, Wade conceded that he could not allay users' concern over security: "You can never ever be totally secure. All we can do is put up as many security barriers we can."
Despite user unease, Wade believes the benefits of e-commerce outweigh the problems and that Internet shopping will provide customers with compelling benefits such as price incentives and reductions. Using buying audio CDs over the Net as an example, Wade said the Internet poses a real threat to high street megastores which have so far been slow to integrate commerce facilities into their Web sites. "If I want to buy a CD, I'm not going to go to a megastore when I can shop from the comfort of my own home and get a 50% discount from buying from the US," he said.
Tracy Snell, News Editor of Music Week, reckons Wade is a little ahead of himself: "CDs on the Internet tend to be back catalogue stuff and there is little evidence to suggest that Internet shopping will cannibalise sales."