Over the last 15 years, eCommerce has fundamentally changed the way we buy things. Before the advent of eCommerce,  individuals and businesses looking to purchase items were forced to either shop from store to store, or search through stacks of paper catalogs and then call the merchant to order.

Now you can sit at a computer in the convenience of your home or office and purchase things from all over the world.  They will arrive at you home or office in 2 to 7 business days or overnight for a little extra money. This has been a boom for the both the consumer and the business person, particularly the small business owner. Instead of setting up a brick and mortar storefront, many small businesses start with an online store. They have immediate access to millions of customers who might need their wares. Consumers who live in smaller communities have easy access to goods and services that might not be available locally.

Although online sales have steadily increased since the advent of the internet and are expected to increase into the future, event more sales are influenced by on-line research. The Forrester Research Group did a resesent study of s web-influences sales. While $155 billion worth of consumer goods were bought online in 2009, a far larger portion of offline sales were influenced by online research. Forrester estimates that $917 billion worth of retail sales last year were “Web-influenced.” It also estimates that online and Web-influenced offline sales combined accounted for 42 percent of total retail sales and that percentage will grow to 53 percent by 2014, when the Web will be influencing $1.4 billion worth of in-store sales.

There is a lot of room for improvement in helping consumers go from doing online research to on-store purchases. Increased security is required to make more customers feel comfortable using their credit card online. New types of on-line shopping like making purchases with you smart phone called “Mobile Commerce” will also start to increase online sales in the near future. While I don’t see the “Mall” disappearing anytime soon. eCommerce is certainly here to stay and making life a lot easier for many of us.