“A company that neglects its website may be committing commercial suicide.” A self-serving dot-com platitude from five years ago? No — that’s the respectable business magazine The Economist talking. Making that pronouncement in its 14-page special report on the subject (May 15-21, 2004), and citing U.S. Dept. of Commerce figures that show online sales hitting $55 billion last year, The Economist points out that, ironically, the unbridled prosperity that the dot-coms once predicted may become a reality long after their demise. There’s plenty of wealth to go around — although retailers grab the lion’s share of revenue ($18.5 billion in holiday 2003 alone), business-to-business transactions such as bidding, tendering, and purchasing are flourishing online. Scams still abound, though: Online losses of $200 million were reported to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission last year.

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