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1999 E-Commerce Recap

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December 1, 1999 *2,800 subscribers* Volume 1, Issue 11
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ECnow.com 1999 trends: Reflection on the e-commerce activities / events / developments of 1999 and how ECnow.com did on it's predictions for the year


Reflection on the e-commerce activities / events / developments of 1999
and how ECnow.com did on it's predictions for the year

by Mitchell Levy
Executive Producer, ECMgt.com


At the end of the 20th century, ECnow.com can step back and take a look at its predictions for 1999. Of the ten trends, two didn't materialize, two partially occurred and six hit the mark. For the trends that missed, I believe the old adage applies, "we tend to overestimate what will happen in the short-term and underestimate what will happen in the long-term".

The top ten trends for 1999 which were predicted in December 1998 can be seen at this url: http://ecnow.com/top10trends1999.htm



Didn't MaterializePartially OccurredHit the Mark
#01 Non-monetary currency X 
#02 Value add begins after "click order"  X
#03 Outsourcing  X
#04 Executive FocusX  
#05 Access Speeds & Appliances  X
#06 Affinity Groups  X
#07 Price Transparency  X
#08 Shopping X 
#09 Non-US DominanceX  
#10 Show me the money  X

Of the predictions made, the surprises for 1999 were primarily what didn't happen or only partially happened (trends #01, #04 & #08). Also a surprise was the extent to which trend #06 took hold.

Regarding trend #01, it is surprising that the press has not spent more time and attention on privacy. This is a big concern that is here to stay for quite some time. The current solution proposed by industry are privacy statements that have been placed on Web sites. Truste is currently the leading organization validating these privacy statements (although three Truste sites were caught violating their privacy statement). It is the responsibility of the press to continue to push this mechanism for privacy and to illuminate their readership on the merits of looking for a privacy statement on every site they do business with.

Regarding trend #04, it is shocking that such a small percentage of executives have taken the charge of e-commerce within their companies. I'm not talking about executives who talk the talk. There are many of those. I'm referring to executives who walk the walk.

The final 1999 negative surprise, part of trend #08, is the inability of the industry to get wallets to stick. The ability to replicate the easy purchasing ability a consumer has in a retail store on the Web is something electronic wallets can provide. The companies that are well positioned to bring wallets to the forefront are the portals who can also guarantee purchases and security of the technology. Although Amazon (with Zshops) and Yahoo (with the Yahoo Store) have created a universal wallet for stores that use their technology, these wallets are not open and applicable across all public sites. The next step is for some of the portal and/or financial companies to adopt an open-standards based wallet technology and guarantee its use across all sites.

The positive 1999 surprise was trend #06. The net market maker craze has hit full steam. Within almost every industry there are one or more dot.com company trying to redefine the rules by which the industry plays. This infancy industry is expected to have dramatic growth in the next couple of years. According to Bear Stearns, there was USD $10B in trade via Net markets in 1998, with that number expected to grow to USD $438B by 2003. A current yardstick of the space is the Net Market Makers conference which debuted in May 1999 to a surprising 350 attendees. The November 1999 conference stopped accepting registrants at 750 and ended up with a 350 person wait list.

Although trend #09 didn't occur, we've seen a number of foreign companies make in-roads in e-commerce and a number of governments push for universal access to its population. Imagine the potential for a country, like Singapore, when all of its residents are on-line with aDSL access speeds.

Trends number #02, #03, #05, #06, #07, #10 all hit the mark. We've seen companies spend a lot more attention or what occurs after the consumer hits the buy button (e.g. fulfillment and customer service). We've seen a rise in the use of outsourcing and a continued push in the arena of increased access speeds and appliances connected to the net. We've also seen the effects of price transparency in a number of industries with the customer being the happy recipient of this information. Finally, we've seen a number of companies make their mark by showing significant revenue or cost reduction numbers by incorporating the Internet into how they conduct business.

Key trends which were not predicted that we've seen include the following:

  1. Customer is king
  2. The continued flow of venture capital leading to a new exit strategy
  3. The creation of e-commerce venture capital funds
  4. The continued desire for "open" with XML, OBI and Linux
  5. The spread of auctions from a consumer tool to a business tool

For this month and next, we have comments from key e-commerce luminaries. In addition to traditional avenues for gathering this information (e-mail, phone), I interviewed luminaries at two key industry conferences. These were CommerceNet99 and the Net Market Maker conference:


Let me leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes this month:


  • Abundant venture capitalist funding of new e-commerce business models for B-to-B and B-to-C
  • Deployment of Internet-based procurement systems to streamline purchases of MRO goods
  • End of the “brochure-ware” era of Websites; most significant Websites are now transaction-capable

Source: Mark Rhoney, President, ec.UPS.com


  • Jack Welsh Makes E-Commerce Priority Numbers 1, 2, 3 & 4

Source: Chris Davis, VP, Consulting & Systems Integration, CSC


  • Corporate investment / company-based VC funds – Oracle, Sun, Dell, Novell
  • Application service providers, corporate portals, total service providers

Source: Dr. Gregory Alan Bolcer, CEO/Founder, Endeavors Technology


  • The inclusion of NASDAQ stocks into the Dow Jones Industrial Avg. This is THE stamp of legitimacy for an exchange dominated by dot.coms.
  • The impact of the dot.coms on the financial health of the US; no one can call e-commerce a fad anymore. The climb of the NASDAQ to nearly 3400 is part of this phenomenon.

Source: Stacey Bressler, E-Commerce Strategy and Marketing Consultant


  • "Customer as King" - This year has seen the growth of the interdependency between companies and their customers.

Source: Bill Ryan, Partner, Niehaus Ryan Wong


I hope you enjoy this eZine.

See you in cyberspace,

Mitchell Levy

President, ECnow.com <http://ecnow.com>
Publisher, ECMgt.com <http://ECMgt.com>
Coordinator, SJSU-PD ECM Certificate Program <http://ecmtraining.com/sjsu>

  • ECnow.com is an e-commerce strategy, e-marketing and training firm helping start-up, medium and large coporations change their business to harvest the power of the Internet.
  • ECMgt.com is a monthly e-commerce eZine focusing on strategy, trends and related news.
  • San Jose State University, Professional Development, Electronic Commerce Management (ECM) is a Certificate Program for e-commerce professionals <http://ecmtraining.com/sjsu>.


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