Media Watch: It’s not fun and games for toy e-tailers this holiday

Last year was considered by many to be the first e-Christmas - the year that the Internet met with Christmas shopping. As e-Christmas enters its second season, there are now a slew of ’e-tailers’ hoping to cash in on the online retail toy market. Analysts forecast that the online retail market may reach as much as dollars 15 billion this holiday season, as online shopping becomes more mainstream this year.

Last year was considered by many to be the first e-Christmas - the year that the Internet met with Christmas shopping. As e-Christmas enters its second season, there are now a slew of ’e-tailers’ hoping to cash in on the online retail toy market. Analysts forecast that the online retail market may reach as much as dollars 15 billion this holiday season, as online shopping becomes more mainstream this year.

Last year was considered by many to be the first e-Christmas - the

year that the Internet met with Christmas shopping. As e-Christmas

enters its second season, there are now a slew of ’e-tailers’ hoping to

cash in on the online retail toy market. Analysts forecast that the

online retail market may reach as much as dollars 15 billion this

holiday season, as online shopping becomes more mainstream this

year.



CARMA’s review yielded some surprising themes. For all the convenience

and benefits the Web is said to offer, preliminary coverage of the 1999

holiday shopping season suggests that the Internet is still relatively

young and prone to crashes due to overwhelming demand.



Media reports most often focused on crashes and delays at various online

toy sites, such as KBkids.com and Toysrus.com. Both sites slowed to a

crawl in the early days on holiday shopping, apparently swamped by a

tremendous surge in online shoppers. KBkids spokespeople tried to view

the positive side of the situation, noting, ’The good news is we’ve got

tremendous traffic, and the less than good news is we are not providing

the speed of customer service we would like to’ (Denver Post, November

27). While there were also reports that Toysrus.com had made strides in

improving its web site and increasing its number of visitors since last

year, there were also damning reports that its ability to handle demand

is still lacking.



The Wall Street Journal (December 3) wrote that shopping at Toysrus.com

was ’the worst web-shopping experience we’ve ever had.’ Several reports

pinpointed the source of the tremendous upswing to mammoth advertising

blitzes that brought more customers than the companies’ sites could

handle.



While its competitors earned unflattering coverage for their web sites,

eToys.com was generally portrayed as the online company to beat. The New

York Times (December 9) quoted an analyst who said, ’Etoys has a better

sense of how to merchandise on an Internet site.’



The slow sites contributed to poor coverage from the point of view of

the consumer. There were many reports indicating that shopping online

was just as time-consuming and maddening as shopping at the mall, with

long lines and crowds replaced by slow sites, glitches and late

deliveries.



The frustration of one columnist was evident as he urged e-tailers to

shape up their online acts: ’Once you venture online, do it right. If

you screw up in your ’brick and mortar’ store, you may offend one or two

people. If you mess up in cyberspace, you can offend thousands, who will

tell thousands more that your store is run by incompetent loons’

(Deseret News, November 28).



Interest in the numbers of individual visitors to specific online retail

sites also brought increased media attention for Media Matrix, a New

York-based web site that tracks the popularity of web sites.



The public appears to have resolved its fears about the security of

shopping online, but e-tailers would be well advised to make shoppers’

experiences as pleasant as possible or risk the possibility that they

will either take their online business elsewhere or become disenchanted

with the entire process and revert back to shopping in malls.



Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International. Media Watch can be found

at www.carma.com.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.