Electronic commerce, or e-commerce, is becoming more and more mainstream for more and more people. Ordering products online for many consumers is just another way of shopping.

E-commerce took off in 1995 about a year after the Web took off, with Amazon.com and eBay both launching that year (eBay at first was named AuctionWeb). The dot-com bust hit five years later, but since then online business has not only recovered but soared.

Despite the recession, online retail sales in the U.S. should grow by an additional 11 percent to $156 billion this year and an average of 10 percent during each of the next five years, according to Forrester Research. Apparel, computers and autos are the three largest online shopping sectors.

Anyone who has shopped online knows the benefits of being able to quickly locate hard-to-find items, comparison shop with relative ease, read user reviews of products and services, and place orders without having to get up from your chair.

But all is not well in the world of e-commerce, with customer satisfaction declining this year compared to last year as consumers have become more price sensitive, according to another new study, by market research firm ForeSee Results. The apparel and the food and drugs sectors saw the largest drop of those measured, with each experiencing a decline in customer satisfaction of 3 percent.

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Reid Goldsborough  |  Contributing Writer
Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway. He can be reached at reidgold@comcast.net or www.reidgoldsborough.com.