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Buying Online At Crunch Time

Techstination feature for Monday, December 17, 2001

Holiday crunch time... and it's not too late to get help on the Web. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. More and more of us are doing at least some of our buying online this holiday season. Some big retailers have added features that make it a lot more convenient. Sears, for instance, now lets you browse and buy on the Web... say during lunch at work... and pick the merchandise up at a store to avoid the cost and time of shipping. Dennis Honan is the GM for Sears catalog and online business...

"If the item is in stock at your nearby store you can normally pick it up within 90 minutes. In fact, we actually send an email back to you telling you that we found the product in our store and we've put it aside with your name on it and it's there waiting for you."

Sears expects its online business to double this year. At the Things Remembered chain, you can avoid the in store wait for personalized gifts. Dennis Benvenuto, in charge of direct channel sales, says buying those small engraved or monogrammed gifts online actually has some other advantages too...

"We have enhanced graphics and you have the ability to enlarge it. And more importantly, when you personalize, when you go to our personalization page, you can actually pick the personalization and see the font that it's going to be in. See how it's going to look in a specific font."

The chain donates a portion of snow globe and ornament sales to the Make a Wish Foundation. Both stores will allow to return merchandise purchased online to retail stores. Not all retailers have that policy, so it's a good idea to check before buying. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.