E-Commerce: Promise or Problem for Oregon?
During the past 200 years, the "end of the Oregon Trail" has held out many promises of prosperity for people willing to work hard as pioneers in a challenging, new frontier: in fur trapping, mining, farming, logging, fishing, ranching, and, today, in the new area of e-commerce. Some of these industries remain strong today, but many have declined in Oregon, leaving community and business dislocations and personal tragedies behind. Will e-commerce follow the same path? Will it "boom" and "bust?"
E-commerce is relatively new, but many experts predict that e-commerce will top a trillion dollars by the year 2002 - and Oregon is part of the e-commerce boom. Today, Oregon ranks as number 20 in having active Web sites registered in the U.S.
What does this e-commerce trend mean for the future of business, our environment, and our quality of life in Oregon? Will e-commerce deliver on its promise of prosperity, or will it become a problem for Oregon?
Do you think e-commerce is the best future for Oregon? Read the following lists of possible benefits and potential problems of e-commerce and make your own decision!
The Benefits of E-Commerce:
  • E-customers can shop from home, at any time of the day or night, even when wearing pajamas.
  • E-customers have a larger selection of products and a greater opportunity to negotiate a better price.
  • E-businesses can be located anywhere there are Internet connections.
  • E-businesses can sell to customers anywhere in the world, so there is a greater chance of profits.
  • E-businesses can save money on real estate, overhead, and the other fixed costs of B-and-M storefronts, especially if they are located in lower-rent, rural areas.
  • Since e-businesses can be located in any geographic area, people who prefer a more rural quality of life can start an e-business.
  • E-customers make fewer personal shopping trips since they don't need to drive places to go shopping. (Americans average 159 shopping trips per year, which is about 60 hours of travel time, according to a recent AC Nielson survey.)
  • If e-businesses are established or moved to new, rural areas, their employees will help to boost other businesses in these locales.
  • E-businesses level the "playing field" for business people - rural or urban, male or female, young or old, of any ethnic group, etc. - who wish to establish new businesses away from the "old boy network" of the "big city."
The Problems of E-Commerce:
  • Not all customers have Internet access yet. Some customers will probably never choose to use the Internet because of their age, income level, and basic attitudes toward technology. (In fact, only one-half of the people in the world have ever received a telephone call.)
  • E-customers are not able to touch or try out the merchandise, or ask questions about service as easily as they could face-to-face.
  • E-customers may receive products more slowly due to shipping delays. Sometimes a customer needs a product immediately and can't wait!
  • E-customers may fear a loss of privacy about their buying decisions - security issues for buying products over the Internet are not all solved yet.
  • E-customers may have difficulty checking the reliability of the e-business and its personnel.
  • E-commerce requires more delivery van trips, since vans must be used to transport merchandise ordered online.
  • E-commerce orders require more packaging (for shipping) than would be required if customers picked up the product at a traditional store.
  • If customers buy from online businesses located elsewhere, e-commerce can cause the traditional, local businesses to suffer, resulting in a chain-reaction effect on other local establishments.
  • Traditional B-and-M businesses have the advantage of an established brand name, customer base, and an inventory system. E-businesses will need to spend extra resources learning how to do business electronically, and learning how to market online to new global customers.
  • The spread of e-commerce causes environmental problems (increased need for electrical power, heavy water use in computer chip-making, toxic wastes, more outdated computers and cell phones in our landfills, etc.).
Let's Go into E-Business!>>>