COMPARISON SHOPPING: A VIRTUAL PROFESSION.
Before boomers changed the work force demographic, comparison shopping was an avocation for most American housewives intent on getting the best value for the family dollar.
Chat rooms have now replaced weekly shopping tips at the hairdresser; e-mail and shopping bots like MySimon and DealTime compare prices on products offered at thousands of sites.
Indeed features, benefits and price comparisons are the stuff of which today's e-tailing is made. Delivery and service at e-tailing establishments have yet to be sorted out. One example was the recent grocery shopping promotion by Priceline.com.
Filled with more holes than a chunk of Jarlsberg, the program lets you select the price you'd pay for various products, pay for them by credit card in advance, and then pick up the items at your local supermarket.
If the item were on sale, could you get a credit? No. Could you choose the brand you wanted? No. Priceline.com did nothing to improve the grocery shopping experience. Instead, they boxed consumers into a corner that was more real than virtual.
Although consumers could make careers out of surfing the 'Net for bargains (any time, day or night), we think that e-tailing used by brick-and-mortar stores will build business and enhance the stores' brand franchises.
Just last week, Michael C. Fina launched its Web site for tabletop, jewelry and gifts as an adjunct to its catalog business and Fifth Avenue store (see page 20). Mind-blowing to Fina execs was the fact that orders on the 'Net appeared to be as large as the average sale made in store.
Classic patterns from traditional brands are known commodities to consumers, who let their fingers do the walking through cyberspace -- but want their purchase delivered by a retailer they know and trust.
Letters to the editor can be sent via e-mail to tischc@ fairchildpub.com or via mail to HFN, 7 West 34th Street New York, NY 10001.
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|Publication:||HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network|
|Date:||Dec 20, 1999|
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