E-COMMERCE'S MISSING LINK

E-COMMERCE'S MISSING LINK

Predictions that this holiday season will be a banner year for e-commerce, cementing its acceptance by American consumers, are only partly right.

Certainly it will be a big year. Estimates are that e-commerce sales could double, to $9 billion, over last year. But what many consumers experience in the process is likely to drive them right back to traditional shopping at brick-and-mortar stores.The National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators and the Consumer Federation of America released a survey last week that showed a 39 percent jump in complaints to authorities about the Internet over the past year, on top of a 23 percent increase a year ago. And those are just statistics. The firsthand tales of friends and acquaintances paint a much more vivid picture.

It seems that, among other things, many e-commerce outfits have concentrated single-mindedly on making it possible for people to purchase goods on the Internet - and given little if any thought to such prosaic matters as filling the order and getting the goods to the customer. Worse, they can't or won't respond to customers who haven't received their orders.

It's a sure-fire recipe all right, but not for success.