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It's a Mad Dash Online for the Holidays

1 Nov, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner

With the holiday shopping season fast approaching, packaged media providers and specialty retailers are rushing to the Web with new sites, services and some behind-the-scenes improvements to help companies better understand their e-commerce operations.

Movie ticketing service Fandango.com early in October hooked up with Buy.com subsidiary United Commerce Service Inc. (UCS) to offer more than 1.3 million SKUs in six categories, including music, home video, games, books and magazines. UCS will manage Buy.com's inventory, fulfillment, site content, customer service, Web site hosting and e-mail marketing for the co-branded site, expanding the brand for both partners.

“Out of the 1.3 million SKUs of Buy.com's entertainment product offerings, 300,000 are in the music, DVD and VHS categories, giving our moviegoers a tremendous variety of movie-related products at low prices,” said Art Levitt, president and CEO of Fandango.com.

Yahoo! Movies introduced a DVD site with information on every DVD in distribution, supported with daily news and reviews from DVDfile.com, release schedules, top 10 lists, scenes from upcoming DVDs and direct links to buy DVDs online at Yahoo! Shopping. “Our users are heavy DVD buyers and renters, and so we have committed ourselves to building the most comprehensive collection of DVD-related information available on the Web,” said Doug Hirsch, senior director of Yahoo! Movies & TV.

Meanwhile, the Baby Einstein Co. is taking baby steps onto the Internet with the launch of a business-to-business online store created specifically for retailers with up to three store locations. The online depot, linked to the recently redesigned consumer Baby Einstein site (www.babyeinstein.com), streamlines the buying process.

Some well-established sites are moving ahead to enhance the customer experience and learn more about how they use sites.

Tower Records has formed an alliance with Web analytics firm Fireclick to track and evaluate consumers' use of the Tower Web site. “Our real-time analysis shows them the click-through rate in real time on their site. So if they put up a large image of the Grinch DVD, they can see if the click-throughs are higher than for the Spider-Man DVD within minutes,” said Fireclick spokesman Steve O'Brien. “That way, they're always promoting the most profitable content.”

BestBuy.com finished the rollout of its in-store iStations in September, linking the online and in-store shopping experience. The chain is also tracking its Web use, hiring analytics provider WebSideStory to measure consumer behavior. In addition to the fourth-quarter push, Tony Hart, Best Buy's VP of customer relationship management, said, “You'll be seeing a lot of new things on our Web sites after the first of the year.”

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