Fool.com: 'Tis the Season to Be Shopping (Fool on the Hill) December 20, 1999

FOOL ON THE HILL
An Investment Opinion

'Tis the Season to Be Shopping

By Yi-Hsin Chang (TMF Puck)
December 20, 1999

New York, NY (Dec. 20, 1999) -- With four more SHOPPING days 'til Christmas, I thought I'd give a quick run-down of neato offerings at various online shopping websites. Disclaimer: This is not meant to be a comprehensive shopping guide. It's actually a quick look at some e-commerce sites that are doing some very innovative things this holiday season.

Amazon.com
You can order as late as Wednesday for next day air delivery by Christmas Eve. You can create a wish list of the things you want. And if someone you're shopping for already has a wish list, you can find out what to get them without having to ask (which would, of course, reveal that once again, you've waited 'til the last minute to do your Christmas shopping).

Another cool feature (of which I have been a beneficiary) is Gift-Click. You can order and send gifts to people without knowing their postal address, just their e-mail address. Amazon will contact them via e-mail and get all the necessary details. It's pretty nifty and definitely heightens the gift receiver's sense of anticipation.

barnesandnoble.com
Free shipping for purchases of $40 or more if you order by Tuesday. You can also order online gift certificates at barnesandnoble.com, though this feature certainly isn't unique to the Internet bookseller. The great thing is that online gift certificates can be delivered online so there's no extra shipping costs.

flooz.com
This website combines e-mail and electronic greeting cards with a "stored value platform." The idea is that you can send this "online gift currency" to anyone with an e-mail address much as you would a gift certificate. Recipients can spend their Flooz at any online store that accepts Flooz. These include Starbucks, barnesandnoble.com, Godiva Chocolatier, and drugstore.com. In other words, the recipient can choose from a variety of stores and offerings. Flooz is especially useful to kids (who aren't supposed to have access to credit cards) and other people who might not want to give out their credit card number online.

Gap Online
This traditional retailer is leading the way in online shopping. Here's an option most Internet retailers can't beat: You can return gifts by mail or to any Gap store. That's right. The Internet meets the real world. Forget hassling with lines at the post office and added shipping costs. You can also buy GiftCards, essentially gift certificates, that can be redeemed at any Gap, GapKids, babyGap, or GapBody in the country. Order $100 or more by Wednesday, and shipping is on them. Incidentally, you can't yet shop at Old Navy Online, but you can buy GiftCards there.

Urbanfetch.com
If you live in New York, Urbanfetch might be a good option. The Internet company delivers for free -- yes, free -- in under an hour. So you could order a Palm V, which retails for $399 on the Palm website, for just $325 (to be sure, it's $299 at buy.com). And it'll be delivered to your doorstep in less than an hour. For a limited time, the newly launched website is offering books, music, and movies at 30% off.

Priceline.com
You can name your own price for airline tickets, hotel rooms, cars, home mortgages, and the latest addition: groceries. The grocery option through the company's WebHouse Club is now available in the New York metro area and in Philadelphia. I haven't had a chance to try it, but I've heard good things about it. You can save up to 50% on everyday groceries, which should leave you with more in your pocket for holiday shopping.

Got any favorite online sites? Tell us about it on the Fool on the Hill message board.

Merry Christmas, everyone!