December 29, 2000, 9:42 AM — ONLINE RETAILERS THAT think they are in the retail business could be headed for trouble. Business-to-consumer selling via the Web, according to Tom Hennings, president and CEO of OrderFusion, an e-commerce software vendor in San Diego, has more in common with direct and catalog sales than with true retailing.
Hennings says many dot-coms and brick-and-mortar stores that took to the Web have failed to understand the difference. When stocks are low at physical stores, the retailer orders in bulk from a supplier, who loads up a pallet of goods. But online retailers typically need one or two items at a time, preferably from the warehouse. This was the alleged beauty of online retailing: that it would offer a more direct, cost-effective route to the consumer.