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Article 2 - The eCommerce Revolution

Adapted from

Article - The e-commerce revolution

1 The retail industry is undergoing a revolution. As more and more tech-savvy consumers go online to shop, Internet sales are booming.

2 The first secure Internet shopping transaction took place in August 1994 - the sale of a CD in the US. By the time of the dotcom gold rush in 2000, Internet sales had reached £800m a year. Despite fears over the future of the Internet after the dotcom bubble burst and initial consumer concerns about the safety of shopping by credit card online, e-commerce sales have exploded since 2000.

3 According to James Roper, the chief executive at IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group), online shopping will transform the way people consume. Traditional retailers have to concentrate on the mass market as they only have the shelf space and time for the best-selling products, he says. But with the Internet, consumers have unlimited choice. "It is a bigger marketplace and consumers can find exactly the product they want rather than just what is available in the shops," he said. "You can get products from anywhere in the world."

4 According to an IMRG report in 2007, "the Internet does not recognise boundaries and is creating a huge global shopping marketplace, worth £250bn in 2007. More than a billion people use the Internet, some 17 per cent of the world’s population, of which almost a third live in Europe." Today, almost 2 billion people use the Internet.

5 Nick Robertson, the chief executive of the online fashion retailer ASOS, said one of the biggest factors in the growth of his business has been the proliferation of broadband. "Due to broadband we are able to display our products in a more favourable way, for example with the use of catwalks," he said.

6 The other key factor is convenience, he said. "Girls don’t have the time to go to the shops in their lunch hour. By shopping online they can get items delivered to their place of work."

7 Online shopping appears to be much more convenient, especially for products that are easy to post or that consumers want to buy in bulk. DVDs, CDs and books are the perfect example. Shoppers know exactly what they want; it is simply a case of finding the cheapest retailer online. However, when it is a question of something more personal, such as the perfect dress and piece of jewellery to match, consumers often prefer to see the item for themselves. They enjoy the whole experience, the pleasure of trying products on or simply browsing and planning a future purchase.

8 One retail analyst said that the traditional retailers that may prove ultimately more successful are those that go multi-channel by integrating their website with their physical shops.

9 "That is the next logical step," he said. "Websites will become more sophisticated. You will be able to order online, then arrange to go and pick it up yourself from a distribution point."

Adapted from The Independent, 01 May 2007, By Karen Attwood

Exercise 1: Match the definitions (1-5) below with the following words:

booming broadband in bulk secure tech-savvy

  1. (adj.): having a good practical knowledge of technology

  2. (adj.): very successful, e.g. business is

  3. (adj.): free from being accessed by an unauthorized person

  4. (phrase): in large numbers or volume

  5. (noun): a communications system used for high-speed Internet access

Exercise 2: Find a word or phrase in the text which means:

  1. experiencing (a change) (verb +-ing, P1)

  2. a temporary period of very successful economic performance (noun, P2)

  3. space in a shop to display products (noun phrase, P3)

  4. a great and sudden increase (noun, P5)

Exercise 3: Grammar in the text - tenses for describing trends.

Study the following sentences from the article and the underlined tenses.

  • The retail industry is undergoing a revolution.

  • Websites will become more sophisticated.

  • By the time of the dotcom gold rush in 2000, Internet sales had reached £800m a year.

  • E-commerce sales have exploded since 2000.

Which sentence and tense describes...

  1. a trend that started in the past and is complete in the present?

  2. a trend that is in progress at the moment?

  3. a trend that was completed before a particular point in the past?

  4. a predicted future trend?

What type of tenses are each of these?

Exercise 4: Now form complete sentences below, using the same tenses as above.

  1. Turnover / not change / since the company relocated to Germany

  2. Next year / consumer spending / go up / dramatically

  3. At present / sales / increase / rapidly

  4. By the end of the last quarter / our profit / fall / by 12%

  5. The number of online subscribers / reach / 2 million / since we started the business

  6. At the end of this year / sales / reach / $1m

  7. Interest rates / drop / by 2% / over the last five years

  8. More and more people / work at home / these days

  9. The population of the island / reach / 2 million / in 1999

  10. By the time he was ready to expand the business / he / spend / $2 million / on advertising

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