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Wednesday, 23 February, 2000, 14:30 GMT
E-commerce: Will it change your life?
E-commerce has the High Street stores worried about the future of shopping. Every day more of us are turning to the internet to order anything from CDs to cars, food to flights.
We seem undeterred by unreliable offers, rogue traders and late deliveries. Instead, consumers are often finding goods easy to come by and cheaper than in shops. And as the internet revolution spreads, it should be boom time for e-commerce. Freight companies are even warning that roads will become jammed with vans delivering online orders.
Do you think we'll soon be doing all our shopping on the internet? Does this mean the death of the High Street? If all your wants and needs are just a click away, will we ever leave our homes?
Progress is not only essential but also vital to the continuing development of society. Within this e-Commerce & e-business have a role to play within society. There will always be people that accept and adopt the latest technology and there will always be those who reject it. These are always different elements of society based on how it will impact on the different areas of society. As for me this will help reduce the costs of goods and give the consumer more buying power. Either way, anyone posting a message here or using the internet if over half way to accepting e-commerce so they have little reason to complain
Clive Pearson, UK
The funny thing about e-commerce is that it is history repeating itself. In the days before most people had motor cars, people such as butchers and grocers used to deliver orders to people's houses. It's just that the way of making the order has changed.
Martin Davies, UK
Absolutely - we are already having our supermarket purchases ordered via the Tesco website. We order clothes from websites in the USA - saving us 10-20%. We book hotels, flights, rental cars and even source birthday gifts via a website in New Zealand for delivery direct to my daughter. It is the future - especially when some of the existing retailers continue to deliver customer expectations and products. Yes its here to stay !
Murray Croft, England
To say e-commerce won't change our lives, is to think as though we are in a train, walking in opposite direction, within the coach. The train will continue to take us forward, e-commerce will take us forward, the question is, are we ready for these changes? To what extent would these affect us? Perhaps we should focus a bit more more on the imparts of E-Commerce on our social existence.
Mr Vic, UK
I like to shop online, and I'd do it more if I could be sure that what I was ordering would be delivered on time, to the right address, when I am in! Many online retailers appear to believe that I have nothing to do all day apart from sit and wait for deliveries. Shopping online should save me time and increase choice - but some retailers (particularly those that run offline mail order too) seem to think '28 days for delivery' is acceptable - and that you don't need to know what's in stock. They are wrong, and they are doomed. We will have to wait for them to go under before we can really take advantage of the technology.
Victoria Clare, UK
One advance that e-commerce has been instrumental in bringing to us is lower cost air travel. For without the ability to maintain lower overheads the low cost airline companies would not be in a position to bring their low fares to market. We are all now able to enjoy affordable travel on a regular basis
Chris Smith, UK
E-commerce is the way forward in many industries. The benefits and opportunities that are out there are incredible, of which only a handful have been realised. A couple of hundred years ago Luddites didn't like the idea of machines taking over and yet they have transformed the way we do things. Likewise the railroad has transformed the way we move things but creative destruction is and always has been the way forward.
David Dinwoodie, UK
A few years ago, people went to the shops to buy practically everything. Today, here in USA, two guys are volunteering to stay home for a whole year with only their computer and internet connection and to survive it. Is this not how life has changed? This is indeed a clear indication!
We are social beings. People will continue to shop at stores, especially if stores become more interesting.
Sam Shamir, USA
Were you aware that Ebay Auction site bans all sales of articles produced in Cuba?...even if the article is an antique and brought into the US before the embargo.
"eBay appreciates the fact that you chose to list your auction with us. Unfortunately your auction was in violation of one or more of our listing policies. Therefore, we have ended this auction and all fees have been credited to your account. Items from embargoed countries, such as Cuba, are not allowed to be listed on eBay. We realize that you may not have been aware of this policy, so we are taking this opportunity to inform you."
Herb Kolla, USA
The Internet is a great way to buy. Haven't had a bad experience yet. I'm praying that the U.S. Government leaves it alone. They are speaking of taxes for the Internet even at this stage. More money for the U.S. Government's insane spending. KEEP THE INTERNET TAX FREE!
Joan Lopez, United States
The internet is taking over the world. What rubbish. People will wake up one day and realise how dull the net is, and go get a real life. I would much rather go 'proper ' shopping. The net has been taken over by business, you can't do a random search for anything now without being hounded by businesses trying to sell you something.
Gary Young, UK
There may be out of town retail parks, but you don't have to use them if you don't want to. There are on-line retailers, but you don't have to use them. Every time a new type of retail is introduced, the traditionalists raise a cry "It's the end of the local shop!" Local shops, in my opinion, offer a much reduced choice at a proportionately higher price, which is accepted due to "convenience." What could be more convenient than sitting in your own home, taking your time browsing through a vast cornucopia of products, selecting which to purchase in your own time, with no pushy sales assistant trying to sell you things you don't want? I'm a fully paid-up "techno-fetishist", and proud of it.
We are trying to sell our kilns on the net but so far people are not really going for it. The local agent is much more safer, I guess.
Henk de Jong, New Zealand
I don't plan on buying anything online. The main reason is because I don't have a credit card. The other reason is that buying online does not encourage the local economy and no taxes are generated from my purchases. The only items I would dare buy online would have to be unavailable where I live, and then again, only if they're COD.
S. Legault, Canada
This may sound a bit mundane, but I find a big problem with e-commerce is getting the stuff delivered. The companies all seem to use couriers who deliver during the day, when most people are out at work. I seem to end up trekking out to an industrial estate on the other side of town to collect things.
I live in Russia. I found Amazon a few months ago - it has changed my life! I can now buy books and have them delivered in a few weeks (shortest time, 7 days). The books I buy are ones I couldn't find on the shelves of large good bookshops in England. I have been able to research areas I have wanted to research for years. It has improved my work performance and the enjoyment I get from life. I have been able to send flowers and chocolates (including a late Christmas present) to relations in the UK and books to friends all over the world. Long live e-commerce!
Alan Farrar, In Russia
I teach Management Information Systems to Retail Management undergraduates at Bournemouth University. This generation coming up is taking the Internet completely for granted as they send e-mails and text messages continuously. With regard to e-commerce and their chosen career in retail, they agree that the Internet will provide an alternative channel for their future customers but that there is still a need for traditional shops too for "touchy-feely" type goods. They especially recognise the growing impact and power of accessing e-commerce via their digital TV sets and their WAP telephones.
Bruce Braham, UK
I welcome the shopping and products on the net as this has not only created more jobs but lowers the prices of greedy stores such as the ones lined up in our high street. No longer do we have to be enslaved by rip-off-Britain, as the internet opens up a lot of e-commercial sites, let us see more!
Ian Allen Griffths, Wales
E-commerce will never replace the high street shop, since half the fun of shopping are the little things like trying on clothes you know you could never afford... Though obviously that could just be me!
There is no doubt in my mind that e-commerce will be the wave of the future. It's easy (my grandma could do it), getting cheaper and most of all it saves the hassle of driving to the mall.
I believe e-commerce is here to stay. It is a complementary service to all other form of shopping. Whether it becomes the most used form is in the hands of the technology. However, do not forget that without vehicles e-commerce is dead in the water. E-fulfilment is going to be where the battles are won and lost, let alone the war!
Chris Warburton, UK
Let's hype all we can about e-commerce, but it will never beat the good old art of bargaining. I do enjoy online auctions. I like that part of ambushing contestants towards the close of an auction. However, articles sold online are often more expensive than in the street shops.
Joab Zephaniah Magara, United States Of America
E-Commerce steals the Fun of Mall Shopping.
Rafey, United States
Mark Ormerod made a very good point. The box-shifting businesses staffed by teenagers who neither know nor care about what their products can and can't do, how suitable they are etc, will (at last) be decimated. Good riddance to most of them.
Those that offer meaningful advice about which product is best, how it can be used, how one item compares to another, etc... they'll still be with us through it all, offering their products online but a personal service for those that want it.
I was on the bus the other day when from behind I heard the call to action that is the annoying musical mobile phone ring. The owner promptly picked up, replying "Matt speaking. yeah I'm on the other line. Yeah cool I'll call you back". It was then that I realised that this individual had call waiting on his mobile phone.
As if that wasn't annoying enough, he then spent the next twenty minutes (two miles through London traffic discussing "banging out his e-commerce business/stuutgart/parties/work opportunities in San Francisco. This diatribe, at highly audible level, was punctuated by the pervading mantra that is e-commerce as though the mere words would turn into gold. If this is the bi-product, let's all go back to a system of barter.
Robert Morgan, England
E-commerce is not, necessarily a replacement for actual shopping. It is a potential threat to the many sectors in retail, but it cannot replace the specialist with their access to specialist information in the minds of, especially, first time or infrequent buyers. The technology is not yet widely available to do this.
What it will do is divide those who have access and those who do not, with the have nots losing out. Also to be considered is what, if any, extra time is freed up, will people be able, willing, have the energy or the resources to do something with? More time does not mean more productive time. That people have more time to spend doing other things does not, necessarily, equate with more socially useful, desirable or productive things.
E-commerce will never fully replace high street shopping although it may also be used. For essentials, like bread and milk, the internet is pretty much useless, but for clothes and CDs etc it could be a very useful resource.
E-commerce has the possibility of making a very big difference the way we shop. Living in the US until last November I was doing most of my shopping for DVDs Cds and books on the net - even DVDrental. It was cheaper and easier than real shopping, and cut out many hassles.
Here in the UK we face the hopeless record of BT, who instead of leading the way are grubbily holding on to their profits in a short sighted strategy. Their announced 'surftime' is so much hot air that a representative was neither able to give me details as to how it works, or when it will start. The Governments intervention is sadly needed.
Anthony O'Sullivan, UK.
I fail to understand the negative comments submitted concerning on-line shopping. Many high street retailers now have a presence on the web and considerable savings over high street prices are offered but are we seeing the big high street names closing branches across the country? No, of course not. We are merely seeing greater shopping options available to the consumer, who's life's are becoming increasingly busy and have less time to battle up and down the high street!
Duncan Keir, UK
Rather than having to drive 30km to my nearest supermarket, I'd love to shop for groceries etc online. I can't (yet). On the other hand, buying books/CDs online gives me more time to read the books when they arrive, and the hassle of not having to find somewhere to park to go to the bookshop is greatly appreciated.
From a strictly personal point of view, the time I DON'T spend driving to shops is better spent shopping in the local market for fresh local produce, and having time to chat to the people I meet. E-commerce is going some way towards improving the quality of life: let's spend less time in the car and more doing the things we enjoy!
Jacquie Hullah, France
If lorries are bringing e-shopping to me and everyone else except you, (Melody Forrest) you won't be able to get your car near any road.
Peter Weir, UK
E-commerce will never replace the traditional shopping etc. It could happen in one way - people will become computer supplements... Moreover, for the business, e-commerce means un-competitive concurrence as internet availability in most countries are very different - internet rates, computerisation etc. I think its time to sign agreements for further e-commerce development, likely as GATT for example.
Martin Priede, Latvia
If I shop online I can do so when I like, I can make an order in the middle of the night if I want to. I don't have to queue for an hour just to be able to park my car, etc. Those who argue that shopping is a sociable experience don't see that the extra time you'd find could also be used sociably, i.e. going to the gym or sports-centre, writing letters to those you've lost contact with (because you've had so much to do) or even saying hello to one of your neighbours.
It brings a whole new meaning to the "loyalty cards". Recorded right down to which brand of washing powder you use, everything. What you watch on your interactive TV, what books you read, what food you enjoy, how much alcohol you drink, your favourite band...sold to the highest bidder. Don't expect junk mail, or anything that violates Data Protection Acts. Expect TV "tailored" to your needs.... This is both exciting and deeply threatening.
What e-commerce does is give the buyer power to say no and the seller the knowledge of buyer preferences in real time. Every time we visit sites that are smart we are contributing to seller knowledge. This is different to buying in the high street. The rules of engagement for buyers and sellers have changed but more change is needed to pass on benefits to buyers.
Mr N, UK
Many people attack e-commerce, saying it is against human relationships, but that is not what we are talking about. They are forgetting that retail shopping is just the tip of the iceberg. E-commerce aims at developing frameworks for virtual enterprises, where the automation of business transactions results in cost reduction and higher efficiency, later sensed by the consumer.
I. R., Australia
Giles, You're having a laugh aren't you? Most people do not live near shops and even those that do tend to drive. Fact is people are moving away from populated areas. Parents living no more than 1/2 mile from my children's school can't manage the walk. Where on earth are you going to park? By the way there is no such thing as a "bargain". Someone somewhere pays. Tesco and Asda do online shopping in my area which leaves me plenty of time to take my children swimming, football, mini-motor racing, out for walks with the dog, parties, etc, etc.
Hugh Jones, UK
As somebody who is employed in the industry I hope that this is the future. Although I personally still enjoy the buzz of actually going into a shop a trying clothes/shoes on etc. but with the hectic work/lifestyles we now lead there will always be a demand for the service we provide
Barry Ellis, UK
I recently attempted to buy tickets from 'Go' Airlines, because they were offering such cheap tickets. Their Web transaction service was too busy to get a connection to during the day and I managed to get through at night - only to have my Switch card rejected on some security issue. The instruction was to contact 'Go' as soon as possible. This proved to be impossible. I assumed that the money would not be withdrawn from my account - hence I decided to forget 'Go' and purchase tickets via an airline I had used before. Lo and behold 'Go' withdrew the fare from my account and my bank have not yet been able to get the money back from them.
Ben Aldhouse, UK
The internet is a valuable resource for shopping but is of no use at 9:30pm when you have run out of milk. High street stores have their place and I can see prices coming down as a result of internet shopping. Some retailers may lose a high street presence, primarily in the luxury items, but overall the high street will still be the place to shop.
Alistair Mitchell, England
The net put all the potential buyers on an equal plane. However, the net puts all the sellers on an uneven plane. Outcome, we get goods to the people from a worldwide source and gives the users (people) the feeling that they are not getting "ripped off" by the high street.
Brendan C. Bostock, England
E-commerce will never fully replace the high street - we are social animals, we are tactile beings - we want to touch the goods before we buy. E-commerce will assist, not replace, high street shopping.
K. Grant, UK
Rather than a substitute for traditional modes of trading, e-commerce should be regarded as a tool that enhances commerce per se. Having said this, internet/intranet/extranet/usenet technology has only really just begun. To merely contemplate what the future must hold for us in terms of global electronic integration is mind-blowing. However, official planetary monitoring bodies or watchdogs should be established, not to invade our privacy, but to ensure that the growth of e-commerce is regulated and controlled.
Simon Cameron, UK
I regularly use sites like amazon.com to search for books and read the reviews. I then extract the ISBN number and call my local bookshop to order, OK it costs more but at least I help ensure my local bookshop stays in business.
Roy Chapman, UK / Germany
As the story of software sales suggest, the more people use the Internet to purchase goods and services the more successfully e-commerce will penetrate our lives. Whether it be for the benefit of the seller, or the buyer, it seems that growth of e-commerce will be taking off, pushed by both forces. High Street commerce may well survive, though the type and scope of its offering will surely change. In the end we have to remember that the itinerant peddler is gone, but commerce has always been with us. Let's not confuse the means with the ends.
Lucjan M. Mordzak, USA
E-Commerce! What a fantastic concept. I personally did about 70% of my Xmas shopping on-line. All items were delivered promptly and in excellent condition. Yes, I think the High Street shops should worry - but only because the consumer is finally getting a better deal. It's your play.... bring your prices in to line or expect to lose out.
Security is not an issue - ordering on-line is more secure than handing your card to a stranger who could quite easily be making a note of your number...and has your signature!
I am getting the feeling that we are living in a society in which you need to have a certain amount of money, to save money. The Internet is one. We can buy goods cheaper online, but what about all those people who can not even afford a phone bill (or do not have a phone)!
Ben Woodward, Scotland
I think it is fair to say that opponents of e-commerce won't have a proper say here because most of them probably don't use the internet much. On another point how much money of licence payers' money is devoted to the internet and how many of them actually use the internet?
Edmund Teo, Brunei
Coming from an area where e-commerce is now an accepted practise it's still impossible to accurately say that it signifies the death of the high-street. It all depends on how the high street chooses to embrace e-commerce. Embrace it they must though... If high street retailers attempt to compete they will lose. Lose that is to their contemporaries who will utilise e-commerce to enhance their existing presence.
Glenn Keighley, Silicon Valley, USA
I still find it difficult to reach some products on the Internet. But it's coming. Local commerce can survive if we can just find every day items, and well-known brands. As for books, I miss the first page, to better judge if it's worth buying. Maybe it will be available in near future.
Moema Galv„o, Brazil
I think we haven't learnt our lesson about Internet yet. I am never going to trust e-commerce for any of my business. Any hacker could be accessing my personal information and soliciting my privacy. I am not going to give them the satisfaction. Don't we already have enough problems with financial institutions, phone companies etc harassing us that we have to turn to the internet to ruin our peace?
Reetu Rajpoot, USA
E-commerce is adding diversity to choice. In the same way that supermarkets and later hyper-markets and shopping malls achieved coexistence with the high street, so will e-commerce. The criteria for success will still be convenience, service and price, and all the players will carve out a market for themselves depending on the needs of their clients.
Ian Culpin, Belgium
I guess only services and homogeneous product could be bought and sold in the net. The rest are the something "trendy" - it will go away in a couple of years.
Humphrey Lei, Canada
Clearly 'e-commerce' and web based shopping is set to proliferate - but before the cost of Internet access is significantly reduced, there is a serious disincentive to a large number of would-be on-line buyers.
Mikael Horseman, UK
I fully believe e-commerce is the way of the future and is doing great things for business and commerce globally. However, as Ron Kirk, the Mayor of Dallas recently pointed out it's all very well to buy goods and services over the internet and live purely by those means but if your house catches fire, an internet picture of a fire engine may not satisfy your needs. Therefore, I agree with the earlier comments that although this may replace traditional shopping for some items, it will never be able to completely satisfy all consumer wants and needs.
Jill Miller, USA
Of course e-commerce is here to stay. It will enable us to be better informed about what we buy, have better information on competitive pricing, be able to find items that we might otherwise give up looking for, and (of course) make considered and impulse purchase decisions from our armchairs. But it will not replace the traditional retailer either. There is a place for both.
Stephen Rabagliati, UK
The High Street will never disappear altogether. All the internet does is increase consumer choice, providing some much needed price competition and another outlet for buying goods. The High Street may have to adapt and downsize, but there will always be demand for physical shopping.
Glyn Coy, UK
While going to the shops is a much quicker and easier way to obtain goods, there's a wide variety of goods available over the internet than in the high street. Being a student, I also find it often works out cheaper to buy goods on-line
Nick Jeffery, UK
Being a self employed web designer I am finding the race for internet presence is staggering BUT would like to relax the High Street fears by saying that there is only so much that you can buy on the internet... CDs, films etc are digitised and are (as I refer to them) "digitally transportable", meaning the media can be passed as data and is not a physical entity. Clothes, Shoes, Jewellery etc. all need to fit the human shape properly, are hard to visualise and very difficult to promote on the web. Enjoy it! Don't worry about it.
Paul Martin, UK
I have shopped over the Net, but I do not now. I ordered a throttle from an American company. I paid my $45.00 US, by credit card, and waited. I received word that my package was in. When I got to the pickup site, I was informed that I would also have to pay $40.00 Customs Brokerage Fees. If I did not pay, I would not get my package. Availability of goods worldwide does you no good when the Government is intent on wringing every bit of extortion they can get through fees and taxes. I could have obtained this item much cheaper by ordering through a dealer.
If cars, television, calculators were any yardstick to go by, then in the case of the internet - this is just the tip of the iceberg. The Big Change will come in about a couple of years, when developing nations, supplier nations etc, integrate their systems with their First World counterparts.
The internet is no longer the preserve of the geeks - everyone can get online in the office or at home. Internet shopping saves a lot of time, it's cheaper, and there are no queues to stand in. It won't ever replace the high street because there will always be some things that you want to take advice on before you buy, particularly expensive items like a TV. Also there could be a problem with credit card security, or even just fear of it, that will keep a lot of people dealing face to face.
Matt Hinnigan, UK
e-Commerce has a place for things that are tangible. I certainly would not use sites to buy clothes, but CD's, Books, Software, Hardware, Groceries and most importantly those lifesaving gifts like Mother's Day flowers. I also heavily use travel sites like biztravel.com to book flights, hotels and hire cars. I should admit that when looking for books and CD's I will browse in bookshops and CD shops, and then order the item online. For people like me whose feet never seem to touch the ground, e-Commerce can be a life saver.
Jason Pepper, UK
Firstly, until the Government does something about the cost to BUSINESS of getting online, the market in the UK will be owned by US firms with cheaper net access (e.g. amazon). As for the 'kill the high street' comments, this is absurd. But even if the net accounts for 10% of consumer spending it will be massive. The far more important point is the way Business to Business e-commerce will radically change the way companies do business with their customers, suppliers and employees. The UK doesn't even begin to understand the impact of broadband , as it simply doesn't exist yet. The talk of 'video on demand' and such like shows a distinct lack of imagination. E-commerce will radically change many peoples entire way of life in the coming decades, far beyond simply what we buy and sell as consumers.
The really interesting developments will take place when manufacturers (like Sony) cut out the middle man (like Dixons) and sell directly (from Japan) to the customer resulting in huge choice and low prices. In the meantime, e-tailors need to get their act together with respect to their Web sites, delivery times and customer service.
Bobby Elliott, Scotland, UK
E-Commerce will certainly change the way we shop for good - the high street as we know it will change. Those who have the most to fear are the large chain stores. Who knows, it may pave the way for the re-appearance of small, friendly run local shops offering services and advice not available when shopping on-line.
Mark Ormerod, England
E-Commerce will only have an impact on the high street when every household has a means of accessing the Internet. This is still someway off. Moreover, the Internet will never remove the social aspects of shopping that exist nor the spontaneity that some people enjoy when buying goods.
Jim Marray, UK
The major point when looking at e-commerce is the ease for the retailer. Even if the customer does not want them to use e-commerce, the revolution will happen in the e-world because it is the cheapest and easiest way of selling your products for all companies be it small or multinational. With less customer contact the shift will happen and force this on to the other customers. Yes, people argue "I would much rather shop in a real shop, were I can look at real products", but which option would you choose on Dec 18-23? No longer will the hassle of shopping make you feel tired. But a new hassle of waiting for delivery will occur.
Chris Brook, UK
The Internet will complement the High Street not kill it. It is the sterile Out of Town retail parks that will suffer. I buy my weekly shop online, but all deli and fresh produce I buy from small local shops or markets, to be sure of the quality.
I don't miss the supermarket one bit and shop more in the High Street as a result of this change. As in all things on-line trading will find it's own level, and I think many more will find this balance.
Electronic methods of buying do not allow you to hold the object you are purchasing, to smell it, to wear it. It does however have a place for commodity items. There is also a time lag on these purchases of about one day, there are many times when you buy things for immediate use.
Many people find shopping a social and pleasurable experience, buying online is mostly a solo event. I think we will see a rapid growth in e-commerce but I think that shops are here to stay. However, if bandwidth is increased to such a level where on-line Virtual reality shopping is possible, then shopping could become a social event, but you would still never use it to buy a packet of chewing gum on the way to work.
Andrew Torrance, Wales, UK
Goods we buy, where our choice is determined by the information given (e.g. Holidays) will be the areas that will be most affected. Shopping for clothes will not be that affected. After all, how much of an influence has catalogue shopping had?
The internet will probably benefit those that cannot now get to the shops to buy their groceries despite what Giles Chivers states. The internet is not as evil as some assume. The big challenge is for us to ensure that the internet does not create or augment social divides. But then the Government will take care of this, won't you Tone?
Ian O'Gara, UK
Though I have become a full time customer of sites like Amazon.com, I will keep on buying from the regular retail establishment. They also offer good prices, and above all their goods are immediately available.
Why would I wanna wait for a gallon of milk for a day when I can get it immediately? Total nonsense. Some areas of the retail will be hurt, but retail will survive no matter what.
Artur Kedzioa, USA
Far from being the death of the High St, I believe that internet shopping could well be its saviour. I work in, and live near, the town centre. Since our local Tesco's moved out of town some years ago I haven't shopped there, but now I buy the "boring" stuff (cleaning materials, cat food, standard tinned/dry, frozen goods) online - which leaves me free to buy fresh food from our local delicatessen, fishmonger, butcher, M&S etc.
As regards books /CD's - many of these are not available locally. And there's the question of knowledge. I couldn't expect the assistant in our local bookshop to tell me whether "Object Orientation in Visual Foxpro 6" would be better for me than "Foxpro for Dummies (neither of which they stock anyway) - but the reviewers at Amazon could.
Andrea Collins, UK
These people who think e-commerce is a waste of time, obviously don't appreciate the amount of money and time that you can save by shopping via the Internet. Most people who do shop online don't have time nor the money to wander around crowded shops trying to find that bargain buy. Within 10 mintutes or less of being online you can find goods or services far cheaper than those found on the High Street.
Jens Walton, UK
While Giles Chiver's idea of human relationships might be "That'll be nine pounds eighty-one please," and "Do you want a bag?" that certainly isn't mine. I don't think shopping contributes in any meaningful way to human social interaction.
Personally, I shop online for books, CDs, DVDs etc. because not only is it always cheaper (you can find occasional bargains on specific items in the high street, but not regular discounts on the items you actually want) and much, much easier, but online stores have a decent range - if you want any book or CD that's a little out of the ordinary, your chances of finding it in a high street shop are very slim indeed.
As for traffic congestion, I think that problem could easily be solved if instead of umpteen different firms, one standard approach was used for delivery, and could then serve all houses on a street with just one van. Does this sound familiar to anyone? It's called the Royal Mail...
Sam Marshall, UK
Fairer sex? Techno-fetishists? What kind of rubbish is this! Grow up and start taking control - forget the high street which of course will bloom - and think of globalisation. One huge homogenised market place where you can get anything you like as long as its in black.
John Fog, UK
Having used e-commerce to buy books, a camcorder, software, hardware, insurance services etc., I find that I now feel lost when my Internet link is not available. I am one of these people who does not enjoy shopping - crowds, poor public transport, obnoxious city centres, or soulless shopping complexes. E-commerce is here to stay - thank God.
Thanks to the corporations, the Internet has become yet another medium deluged with advertisers. This should never have happened.
The Net was meant to be all about communication; not a tool for sales outlets to hawk their wares. You can keep your "e-commerce"; I'll continue to use the Net for the purpose it was intended - free sharing of ideas.
Stephen Williams, England
Internet Commerce is extremely useful for stuff "mainstream" shops won't sell, because there's no money in it. Try buying more unusual foods from your local supermarket, or books from lesser-known authors from the local bookshop. Forget it.
The Internet is the last refuge of the fringe. But it won't last, unless the companies involved get a grip on reality and make the Internet as safe as the high street.
I am a Director of an Interactive Consulting firm which is part of a big Ad Agency. My view is that new media and e-commerce will add to and work alongside conventional retail channels. Of course some retailing will change substantially - e.g. Music/Video sales as they can be digitally delivered. Also, items that are easy to buy online because you know exactly what you want - books for example. I believe that retail will always have a place.
History shows us time and time again that new inventions don't completely replace the old. Computers replace books? TV replace Radio? The telephone replace a letter?
Trevor Diamond, UK
As a small business, opening a store on the internet was one of the best decisions I ever made. I'm taking orders over the internet 24 hours a day, and I'm reaching markets I never could using conventional sales channels.
The site has also proved a life-line to some of my disabled customers, who find it difficult to reach the store - especially in winter. I have to say that I am not very technically minded at all, but setting up my store was easy using BT Storecentre.
Phillip Ash, UK
Just another method of doing something. Doesn't everyone remember when videos were about to kill the cinema? Look at the situation now, don't tell me that cinema is dead! Wasn't e-mail going to stop people reading books, what did I see in the Book shop the other day, a dictionary for a famous Microsoft encyclopaedia.
It is just another method which will change ever so slightly the way do things. If you want to stay in your home and buy through the Internet fine, if you do not fine, if you like me want to mix and match, hey thats fine to. I think it's called FREEDOM OF CHOICE.
Gary Malpas, UK
I agree with Giles Chivers! I sit in front of a screen all day at work where I have access to email, internet, word etc. I would hate to do the same after office hours. I feel sorry for people who appear to sit hunched before a screen, incessantly tapping on a keyboard 24 hours a day. I enjoy walking around my town at the weekend and browsing around the shops. I do realise that in cases where people are genuinely housebound e commerce must seem like a godsend. To the rest of you I say 'Get some exercise, social skills and a life!'
The first supermarket to have its entire stock available online will certainly get my custom. As Internet orders could be despatched from a warehouse, they wouldn't need such huge retail premises and enormous car parks. Banking online is certainly preferable to standing in long queues. Even when a full transaction can't be completed online, it saves everyone's time if I can get a list of appropriate properties to rent or cars for sale which meet my requirements.
As for warnings of lorries blocking the roads, this is reminiscent of dire warnings in ages past of the levels of manure that would be reached in the streets when horse-drawn vehicles reached projected levels. If a lorry is bringing my shopping to me, my car won't be on the road.
Melody Forrest, England
I don't see how e-commerce is going to take off without easier to use appliances than the PC. In another 5-6 years maybe we will see a surfeit of internet appliances that will make on-line shopping as easy as talking to a shop-keeper.
Madhu, India, presently in Singapore
Safety and security of shopping on the internet do not seem to be assured. For instance, a computer mugger, sitting in the comfort of her/his home in say, St Petersburg, could move funds from the private accounts of say, a Brazilian national from his/her bank in say, Buenos Aires to deposit them in a US bank operating in Tokyo - all in a few seconds.
If such incidents were few in number (which it is likely to be in the initial stages), it might be possible for cyberpolice to cope with such crimes; but, if e-commerce mushrooms to cover billions of transactions, the numbers and values involved in cybercrimes could balloon out of all control, making it well nigh impossible to deal with such a crime wave.
Mohan Singh, India
To be honest I don't think the internet in general will take off to anything like the US levels as long as BT continue to rip off the public with unfair and expensive (up to 4.5p a minute) metered access. To achieve the full potential of e-commerce...unmetered access is a must. I am glad to see the government are now understanding this, with Gordon Brown giving his support to unmetered access today.
John McQuillan, N. Ireland
E-commerce would be great if it maximises the use of the internet. Pages showing products could have extensive information about the product (or even a link to the manufacturer's website). Also, more digital products (e.g. MP3's) could be put on sale. But many sites are not even as good as a simple mail-order-catalogue.
Richard L , UK
As a mum working full time I find buying over the Internet a lifesaver. It means that I can shop when my children sleep, therefore giving me more time to spend with them. I cannot wait until I can have my weekly food shopping delivered to my home. I'm sure my children would too rather than going round the supermarket.
Lorna Neilson, Scotland
I hate shopping. I hate the crowds and the hard sell. I hope to buy everything online. As for browsing I will do that on the internet as well, reading reviews of new products when they become available. I will not become a recluse because instead of standing for ages in supermarket queues I will be out enjoying myself with the spare time generated.
Keith Ditchburn, England
High street shopping will never disappear. As a shopper do you always know what you want? No, you go to the shops and buy on impulse - we enjoy this. Shopping is not always a chore especially for the fairer sex.
Peter Stoney, England
It has already changed my life. For anything that you know what you are getting - books, CDs, toys, groceries etc, I order online already, because they are usually cheaper, I can shop from the office at lunchtime without having to fight the hordes at the shops, it's quicker and more convenient.
There are some things that are very difficult to buy over the web - clothes for example, because you can't try them on, see what the fabric is like etc.
Andrew Dowle, UK
It is very unlikely that the high street will disappear. There will never be a substitute for 'browsing that book', popping out for a pint of milk or getting a haircut!
John Jenkin, UK
I don't see the need for e-commerce! Most people live within easy travelling distance of shops, you can always find bargains on the high street, online stores assume you have a credit card, and you can meet people shopping in the real world.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Who are these smug 'techno-fetishists' who seem to be advocating an online world at the cost of human relationships? Not I - human beings thrive on social, as well as other forms, of intercourse! Shop online and become a recluse! Or get out there, enjoy life, and hunt down those bargains!
Giles Chivers, UK
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