O'Reilly Releases State of Web Commerce Study

Article excerpt

Fewer than I percent of the public sites on the World Wide Web are fully able to host secure transactions, according to "The State of Web Commerce," a report released in December at Internet World by O'Reilly & Associates and Netcraft, Ltd. Using Netcraft's proprietary Web query technology, the researchers queried 648,613 publicly visible Web sites, and found only 3,239 SSL-enabled sites that have valid certificates from a trusted third party.

"Despite the huge buzz over the World Wide Web, its commercial potential has not yet been touched," said Dick Peck, O'Reilly's vice president of business development. "That's ironic, since our March 1996 study, `Conducting Business on the Internet,' showed that selling, marketing, and customer service top business plans for Web use. Yet only 10 percent of today's sites offer SSL, and just 5 percent of those-or roughly half a percent of the Web-have third-party certificates."

"Consumer confidence is commonly identified as a major stumbling block to selling via the Web. Our results suggest that huge opportunities still exist in this new channel, both for businesses that address their customers' concerns by offering secure transactions and for companies that supply the technology and expertise to help those businesses sell online."

"The State of Web Commerce" is the first market research to look at existing Web servers' ability to provide secure transactions for their customers, according to O'Reilly. Other recent studies of Web commerce have focused on the dollar value of transactions or the number of people making purchases via the Web. "The State of Web Commerce" measures businesses' readiness to foster the consumer confidence required to make this new channel a viable commercial medium. The report includes an overview of secure commerce technologies, as well as interviews with leading Web commerce and security practitioners that are working in the areas of encryption, multihosting, new standards, and server development. In addition to statistical data on worldwide penetration of secure transaction technologies, "The State of Web Commerce" suggests that standards and methods for secure Web commerce are still very much in flux. …