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December 1999

Professional Insider: Trend Spotting

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Retail experts say Christmas '99 will be big for on-line retailers. Check out who's out there and what they're selling

'Tis the season to do your shopping from your home or office computer. Everyone, it seems, is on the World Wide Web, hawking gift items ranging from a Fruit of the Month Club membership (www.harryanddavid.com) to a Breitling watch (www.Ashford.com). The Web is getting crowded with brick-and-mortar retailers, catalog retailers and exclusively on-line retailers throwing up pages and waiting for the credit card numbers to come through their secure encryption program.

Who's There?

It's easier at this point to say who isn't on the Web. As if having a Gap store in what seems like every square mile in America isn't enough, www.gap.com has a full clothing line plus links to Gap Baby and Gap Kids. Retailers such as Banana Republic, J. Crew, Nine West, Nordstrom, Macy's and Anthropolgie have full-service e-commerce sites offering clothing, shoes, home furnishings and fashion jewelry.

Almost all of these big players support their on-line offerings with reminders in their stores and catalogs. And you've undoubtedly seen advertising for them in consumer magazines, on buses and on network television.

Jewelry Sites

Not surprisingly, many sites offer jewelry – many are on-line only. Three of the biggest are Miadora.com, Mondera.com and First Jewelry. All of these sites have supported their on-line efforts with glossy four-color ads in major magazines. These sites offer uncommon convenience to on-line shoppers. Instead of humping through the snow or fighting through crowds at the mall, they find fine jewelry at their fingertips in a spare minute in the office or late at night at home.

To compete, make it easy to shop your store, have extended hours, make appointments with your best customers so they can get in and out quickly and advertise. Also check these sites yourself so you know how to differentiate your product. And to make sure you get your shopping done on time, you may find yourself tapping in to the wealth of Web shopping choices.

by Liz Smutko

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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