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Online retailers somewhat upbeat     

Las Vegas – Online retailers are peering through the fog of the current marketplace – and many still see better business ahead, according to a new study by Forrester Research.

According to “The State of Retailing Online 2008” from Forrester, 72% of online retailers believe that “the online channel is better suited to withstand an economic slowdown than offline channels.”

The findings were released last week at the Shop.org Annual Summit here. Shop.org is a unit of the National Retail Federation. 

“Internet retailers have good reason for optimism as budget-focused shoppers head to the web for value and convenience,” said Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org.

About one-third of the e-retailers surveyed said they expect better volume in the next 12 months, while another third anticipate current levels of business to be maintained.

Still, 37% of survey respondents have lowered expectations for their online business performance in the next 12 months.

The report found that 81% of online retailers had a profitable 2007, with 75% more profitable than in 2006.

One hitch: a finding that online retailers remain challenged in creating cohesive customer experiences among multiple sales channels. While many web teams continue to operate in silos, apart from store and catalog teams, multi-channel retailers report that half of online customers also shop in the company’s stores or through its catalogs – a key reason to better coordinate and co-promote these channels.

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