- 2013 - December - 5th -
Dave Brown, CEO of Jacksonville-based Web.com, said local businesses will lead the next trend in e-commerce

What’s the next big thing for online? Buying from local shops

By Carole Hawkins, Contributing Writer

Wrap your head around this — local will be the next big global trend in e-commerce.

That's the assessment of Web.com CEO Dave Brown.

His Jacksonville-based company's mission is to provide e-commerce services and website design to small businesses. So if small business is the next big Internet trend, it is, in Brown's own words, "a great time to be Web.com." 

Brown was the keynote speaker at a JaxUSA Partnership luncheon at the Hyatt Downtown about the role of international business in Jacksonville.

The conversation doesn't get more international than news about where the Internet is headed.

"The new key thing for the Internet for the next five years will be local, that one word local," Brown said. "We all adopted Amazon and Google a long time ago and we've finally gotten to the point in the economic curve where we're at the local space.

"We're going to adopt some of those small businesses, and we're going to find them online. We're going to begin to buy from them and interact with them."  

There's no disputing that e-commerce is undergoing mass adoption, and Brown rattled off the numbers that prove it.

• Black Friday sales eclipsed $1.2 billion in a single day. Last year's record was just under $1 billion. E-commerce sales for the full year are expected to be up 16 percent over last year. Compare that to an average U.S. retail growth rate of 4 percent.

• Consumers are going mobile. More than 40 percent of e-commerce sales Monday happened on mobile phones, twice as much over the previous year. Smarphone penetration has doubled since 2011, from 22 percent to 45 percent. It's estimated it will reach 80 percent in U.S by 2016.

• Internet searches are growing for local information. Google estimates 94 percent of users are searching for local information and 73 percent do a follow-up activity within one hour. Local online ad spending is expected to grow at more than 50 percent compounded average growth rate for the next five years.

The numbers mean business owners should care more than ever about their Internet presence, Brown said.

A Web.com study showed while most businesses think they are doing a great job on the Internet, most consumers disagree.

Both consumers and businesses agree though that the Internet will be vital to future buying decisions and the fate of businesses.

Brown said just a few years ago, only 40 percent of businesses — half of this year's percentage — believed that to be true.

"When you see growth rates like 40 and 50 percent, you know we're going through a massive adoption," Brown said. "It's going faster than we can comprehend and faster than our businesses can adjust to."

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