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This paper challenges the basis of highly optimistic predictions for the growth of business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce, and a number of barriers to it are discussed. In a corporate age, when 'the customer is king', it is questioned whether Internet shopping really is what consumers 'want' or 'need'. The discussion provides a socio-technical exposition underlying this optimism and counters it by a prudent and realistic model for progress in the area of e-commerce. As a result, we suggest that, in the near future, e-commerce may mature as a steadily growing niche market - an alternative way to shop rather than the way. We suggest that the Internet will probably evolve as an all-embracing communication and information tool, rather than the 'shopping mall of the future'. A discussion on the future of B2C e-commerce is presented.