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Last-minute gift ideas abound on the Web


If you've been to your favorite mall or superstore in the past 10 days, you're well aware that the biggest shopping season of the year is under way.

I've been doing some shopping of my own, but I find myself doing a lot of window shopping on the World Wide Web.

And according to the December 7th issue of Fortune magazine, the Web is going to transform consumers. Merchants that don't get it will be shocked when "the hunted have become the hunters."

In other words, car buyers won't take a salesman's word on trade in values, rebates and other facts. The Web will make it easy to double-check information and compare prices.

For the Christmas shopping season, an explosion of Web sites are out there hawking their wares. Want to avoid the traffic jams, the mall crowds? Try the Web!

MACY'S. Serious shopping takes a serious store, and few can compare to the venerable Macy's Web site at www.macys.com.

You'll find it both attractive and functional. Have a Significant Other who doesn't have a clue what to buy you for a gift? Drop a mega-sized hint by signing up for the Macy's Gift or Bridal Registry.

Or you can browse Macy's 250,000-item store, from the Christmas-theme Joe Boxer Christmas Boxer shorts to the their best Bulova ladies' watch.

You join the Macy's E-Club at no cost to help move your online purchases to the express checkout lane. The E-Club benefits also include e-mail notifications prior to important dates you select, and an Automatic Replenishment service you can use to keep a steady flow of cosmetics or what-have-you coming to your door from Macy's.

BLOOMINGDALE'S. Not to be outdone by a competitor, Bloomingdale's also has a first-rate Web site devoted to taking your hard-earned cash and giving you an authentic Bloomingdale's Christmas gift.

One nice touch they've added to their site is the ability to easily turn off the images. True, it robs some of the visual element, but it makes the pages (and shopping) faster and more efficient.

If you visit Bloomingdale's, expect to suffer a bout of "sticker shock" at first. How about some full lead crystal? How about a sterling silver rattle for that new arrival in the family? Bloomingdale's has it.

In addition to a bridal registry, Bloomindale's also offers electronic gift cards, which are basically a plastic card that gives the recipient a set amount of cash to spend at the store (or at the Web site).

Better shop there soon, however: They only guarantee that items purchased by Dec. 19 will arrive by Christmas.

Visit their storefront on the Web at www.bloomingdales.com.

E-COMMERCE NEWS. If you're a business owner and get want more information on electronic commerce, there's a couple of Web sites you might want to visit sometime.

If its news you're seeking, you'll find e-commerce news aplenty at eRetail.net.

You'll find the latest news from top sources: ZDNet, Inter@ctive Week, Fox and others.

The site keeps extensive archives of related stories on the site, and they offer a really neat daily e-mail dispatch about the latest e-commerce news. Best yet, it's free!

Visit eRetail.net on the Web at www.eretail.net.

SHOPPING LIST. Online consumers show some definite trends in what they're buying, according recent surveys by the Greenfield Consulting Group.

More than 2,400 Web surfers who made online purchases were surveyed and here's the survey found the group had purchased or in the previous 90 days:

  • 41 percent said they'd taken part in an online auction;

  • 26 percent bought computer software;
  • 25 percent banked online;
  • 25 percent said they purchased books;
  • 23 percent said they'd bought airline tickets;
  • 12 percent made hotel or travel arrangements;
  • 12 percent traded stocks, mutual funds, bonds, or other options online at least once;
  • 65 percent said they plan to do more online trading in the future.

NAME GAME. The tiny island nation of Tuvalu has been quick to realize it can issue some of the world's most valuable domain names -- those ending in the .tv suffix.

The letters "tv" identify the South Pacific nation in the global domain name system, and the country is making .tv domains available -- for a price.

It'll cost you a cool $1,000 to reserve the domain name, and once it's registered, you can count on an annual fee of $500 to keep it.

And that's not the worst part.

If two companies or individuals submit requests for the same domain name, an auction will be conducted, with the domain going to the highest bidder.

All in all, it makes the fees charged by Internic look like quite a bargain!

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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