Online commerce on the rise

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    By JANAE HUBBLE

    Online shopping is hitting the mainstream, leaving other businesses behind.

    Over the the holidays America Online reported an estimated $1.2 billion were spent for online shopping alone.

    Ben Boyd, director of communication for Barnes and Noble Bookstores, said his company has had a tremendous increase in book sales since going online.

    “The Internet is a whole new channel. While we only made $15 million from Internet sales in 1997, last year Barnes and Noble made $65 million,” Boyd said.

    Clothing stores are also doing well on the Web. Alysha Smith, assistant manager for the Gap at University Mall, said selling online as been a benefit to the company.

    “We’re always thinking of ways to grow. Going on the Internet was just taking another step into the future,” Smith said.

    Paul Mouw, American Graphics manager, said the variety of electronic commerce avaliable is endless.

    “People can buy anything online now, even groceries. In Finland, banking is just beginning to be done on the computer,” Mouw said. “The Internet is really in its infancy.”

    Local businesses are also getting in on the action. Lane Livingston, chief executive officer of Fibernet, has seen tremendous growth since he began working in 1995.

    “I would say over the past year the interest level in electronic commerce on the Internet has maybe even quadrupled,” Livingston said. “Today everyone’s using the Internet, from someone running a small business out of their home to the largest businesses in this country.”

    While businesses are seeing the profits, customers are also benifitting. Still some are concerned about the security of using a credit card to make online purchases. David Jenning, general manager of Internet Connect said online shopping is secure.

    “Purchasing of the internet is much safer than even giving a waiter your credit card,” Jenning said. “If your number is ever stolen, most don’t realize there is generally only $50 of liability.”

    Many aren’t worried about the security. They feel online shopping is helpful.

    “It’s quick, easy, and I don’t have to look around as much for a good deal,” said Orem resident Mike Simpson.

    Amazon.com spokesman Bill Curry said people are busier than in the past.

    “Anything that allows for more time is valuable to people. A cooked chicken sells for more than an uncooked one only because it saves time,” Curry said.

    Livingston agrees. He thinks companies like Amazon pose a threat to those who aren’t selling online.

    “What’s happening is the convenience factor. The ease of being able to buy something online and do it quickly is really appealing,” Livingston said.

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