A new report from Ireland’s Research and Markets, Retail E-Commerce: Future Trends predicts that while the overall number of online users in the United States will continue to grow at only single-digit percentage rates annually, as many as 83 percent of U.S. Internet users will have broadband by 2008, assuring online shopping will continue its dramatic upswing.
Growing prevalence of broadband Internet access among U.S. consumers will also impact how Internet retailers market to Internet users. Increased broadband use means consumers have rapid access to a variety of retailers selling the same products, as well as product comparison sites, peer opinions, blogs, social networks, discussion lists, and other resources, all of which may influence individual buying decisions. At the same time, increased broadband adoption means retailers can experiment with offering innovative online features to draw potential buyers, such as online visualization tools which enable consumers to get a better sense of products traditionally examined “in person” in stores.
Broadband access is frequently cited as an important factor in the growth of Internet retailing. According to Research and Markets, almost 43 percent of the online merchants surveyed by Internet Retailer in June 2005 cited the spread of broadband Internet access as the main driver of online shopping growth, while 31 percent cited the improvement in Web retailing solutions, ranking it the second most important driving force in online shopping.
Amusingly, in a separate report Research and Markets notes that the increase in broadband adoption also means an increase in the number of users participating in Internet gambling, at least in the U.K. Which, one might suppose, means that purchasing products via the Internet is no longer considered akin to gambling!