AOL Surpasses Amazon in Online Transactions

America Online surged ahead of Amazon.com in online transaction volume for the month of March, according to the NextCard eCommerce Index, a monthly listing of online merchants with the greatest number of transactions by NextCard customers.

Transaction volume was measured among the top 30 online merchants, with a number of nuances noted by the company.

“Several notable reversals occurred within the Index during the month of March, beginning with AOL,” said Thomas Byrne, vice-president of e-commerce at NextCard.

Among those changes in volume is Tickets.com, which posted a 950 percent gain in transaction volume. However, the company’s showing may have much to do with its controversial use of deep linking, which allows its users to easily and seamlessly tap into pages from other sites.

The Index notes that online flower and gift merchants fell victim to a post-Valentine’s Day slump, while pet supply, pharmacy and movie merchants saw the greatest shifts in leadership positions.

Additionally, Drugstore.com emerged as the top online pharmacy for the first time since 1999.

Online Giants Persevere

Rivalries among the industry leaders are seemingly reaching a boil as companies continually forge new partnerships and marketing alliances with other key players. Notably, Amazon recently took a step toward same-day delivery with a $60 million (US$) investment in Kozmo.com, and AOL has forged agreements with such brick-and-mortar heavyweights as Wal-Mart and Sears.

Still, e-commerce has been dogged of late by prognostications of doom and gloom by several industry analysts. Michael Fleisher, president and CEO of GartnerGroup, believes that 95 to 98 percent of all dot-com companies will fail over the next 24 months.

Meanwhile, Forrester Research issued a report Tuesday declaring that “The tide is turning against dot-coms.”

WAP Technology To Define Future

With International Data Corp. (IDC) projecting that wireless devices will dominate the Web by 2001, AOL CEO Steve Case and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos are pushing their companies further and faster than ever into the wireless world.

Case has already forged alliances with Sprint PCS, Nokia, Motorola and other companies, while making it clear that his interest lies in wireless partnerships, rather than in acquisitions.

For his part, Bezos has said that while wireless is presently in its infancy, future online commerce will be fully untethered.

“Today the revenues we get from wireless are minimal,” Bezos said, adding that “all transactions could well be done wirelessly 10 years from now.”

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