How'd They (E-Companies) Do?

Online shopping scored big during the holidays, but lots of individual e-tailers fumbled. What they did wrong--and how they can fix it

The Douglas Firs are long gone, the bells and bulbs back in their boxes. But experts are still unwrapping the fortunes and failings of electronic commerce--the economic centerpiece of this past Christmas--in an ongoing critique of the first true e-holiday.

Yes, lots of people shopped online in 1998. Quite a few did even in 1997. But it wasn't until the final months of 1999 that transaction by mouse shed its novelty status and "dot-com" became part of the consumer lexicon.

The number of consumer e-commerce sites had multiplied tenfold in 10 months while the marketing machine went into overdrive, flooding the...

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