Janet Pinkerton Natmcorp.com

Consumer e-commerce is on a roller coaster ride, with holiday sales racking up amid a market shakeout that began earlier this year. Tapping the Internet's efficiencies is a competitive necessity. Retailers are leveraging the Internet as a communication tool, whether they are communicating with suppliers' manufacturing plants in Japan or buying group members. Vendors, seeking ways to efficiently support the industry's buying groups, are investing up extra nets to distribute program information and merchandising materials, in addition to aggregating members' buying group forecasts and purchasing orders. Major retail players, including Target Corp., Best Buy, KMart and Walgreens, created the WorldWide Retail Exchange, a Web-based, business-to-business marketplace. Member

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