Business to business rather than consumer commerce will drive Internet growth in the future, one of America's leading technology analysts has predicted.
"We'll see business to business commerce explode," senior Internet analyst at BancBoston Robertson Stephens, Keith Benjamin, told an audience of institutional investors at the firm's international technology and telecoms conference in London today.
The online economy has been largely driven by consumers, to date, but businesses were now becoming aware of the savings they could make online, Benjamin said.
He predicted rapid growth of online brokerage and auction sites, which allow vendors to bid for large supply contracts electronically. He also saw a good future for sites such as Priceline.com, which enables customers to submit prices they would be prepared to pay for products and services.
"We'll see hundreds of millions of dollars come online," Benjamin said. "Businesses are just starting to follow consumers online."
Direct marketing over the Net is also set to boom, as more companies begin to use technology which enables them to build profiles of Net surfers and target them with personalised offers, Benjamin said.
Suppliers would begin offering customers coupon style incentives for specific products, based on their demographic profiles, in a bid to attract and retain business, Benjamin predicted.
"We've only scratched the surface of products you can buy online," he said.
Despite the boom however, Internet shoppers were characterised by impatience and companies' ability to fulfil orders quickly would become a key differentiator, Benjamin warned.
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