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Entries in Online Shopping (32)

Monday
Mar252013

Online Sales Tax Breaks May End

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Consumers in many states may soon have to say goodbye to tax-free online shopping.

By a large bipartisan majority, the Senate voted for an amendment to the budget bill, which would require all retailers to collect and report sales tax. The House has yet to vote on this.

The Marketplace Fairness Act covers brick-and-mortar stores and online sites. “It’s not a tax,” says David Korn of the National Retail Federation, who supports the amendment. “The era of digital commerce has created challenges for state sales tax laws.”

Even Amazon backs the proposal, despite its long opposition to collecting sales taxes. One reason for Amazon’s change of heart is its decision to build more regional distribution centers to speed up deliveries of its goods.

Brick-and-mortar retailers have long argued that they are at a disadvantage, because they have to collect sales taxes while online competitors are exempt. Supporters of the Marketplace Fairness Act say it would level the playing field.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan082013

Target to Match Prices of Online Competitors Year-Round

Tim Boyle/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Stung by fierce competition from its online rivals, Target is now making a year-round pledge to match low prices customers find on identical products at other sites.

In a press release Tuesday, the Minneapolis-based retailer explained the new policy: "If a guest buys a qualifying item at a Target store and then finds the identical item for less in the following week’s Target circular or within seven days on Target.com, Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Bestbuy.com or Toysrus.com [including Babiesrus.com] or in a local competitor’s printed ad, Target will match the price."

Target began matching prices of some of its online competitors this past holiday season. The new, permanent policy expands on that and goes into effect immediately.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec202012

Christmas Shopping: How to Get Free Last-Minute Shipping Deals

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The cut-off for free shipping on most online sites was Tuesday, Dec. 18.  But there's still some ways you can finagle free rush shipping on last minute holiday gifts to make sure they arrive before Christmas Day.

Some of the biggest online retailers are still offering free last-minute shipping:

  • Barnes & Noble: Free shipping on Nook HD through Dec. 22.
  • MacMall: Free two-day shipping on orders over $299 and under 25 lbs. through 6 p.m. PST Dec. 22.
  • Macy’s: Free shipping on orders over $99; order needs to be placed  by 11:59 p.m. EST Dec. 20.
  • Overstock.com: Free shipping through the end of the month, but must place order by Dec. 22 to receive by Christmas.
  • Newegg: Free two-day shipping on over 200 items.
  • Target: Free shipping on Daily Deals.
  • Victoria’s Secret: Free shipping on orders over $100 using code “SHIP12.”  Order by 5 p.m. EST on Dec. 20.
  • Zappos: Free shipping for all items with guaranteed Christmas delivery if ordered by 11:59 p.m. PST Dec. 22.

And the biggest online retailer, Amazon, has a limited set of items available for free expedited shipping.  The items include jewelry, watches, clothing, video games, laptops, headphones and kitchen items.  But if you need something that’s not on this limited list, consider Amazon Prime.

Amazon Prime is a yearly subscription service.  In exchange for a $79 fee, you get free two-day shipping all year long.  And yes, that also applies at Christmas (must order by 3 p.m. EST Dec. 22 to receive on time).  You can try the service free for six months.

If you have a family member who already belongs to Prime, they can nominate up to four people for the same free shipping benefits.  Prime members nominate someone by going to their account, clicking “settings” and “manage Prime membership.”

Also, Amazon Student is a free six-month membership to Prime with all the benefits, providing you have an email address that ends in .edu.

But you don’t have to limit yourself to Amazon.  Shoprunner.com also offers free two-day shipping, though the membership service costs $8.95 a month.  The site has tons of participating online retailers like ToysRUs, Sports Authority, Claire’s, PetSmart and EMS.

Finally, the best last-minute option for many is to ship to store.  You peruse all the options from home, pay online and then pick up your selection at your local store.  Tons of big retailers offer this service, and it guarantees your item will be in stock and waiting for you at customer service.

Major retailers offering free Ship to Store include:

  • Best Buy
  • Target
  • Toys R Us
  • Walmart
  • Sears

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec152012

Fab.com: How Social Media, Apps and Cool Stuff Created One of the Hottest Online Stores

Fab.com(NEW YORK) -- Fab.com in New York City is an up and coming online shopping site.

If you hadn't heard of Fab before you saw this story, chances are you would have soon. The site has gone from one million users to 10 million in just 18 months.

So why are millions shopping at Fab this holiday instead of Amazon.com or another online shopping site?

Social Leads to Sales

Other sites claim to push "social shopping," but you could say Fab has been a pioneer in that space. "People get excited about the stuff on Fab and they tell their friends. We're the first kind of social commerce website where we put the social engagement first and the sales second," Jason Goldberg, the CEO and founder of Fab.com, told ABC News in an interview. "The way we measure how well we're doing is how often people share the products on the site."

Goldberg said he built the site with social at its core; it wasn't just an afterthought with a Facebook or Tweet button at the end of the page. You can sign into Fab with your Facebook account and see what items are trending with your friends and what items they are picking as favorites.

Fab has also made it really for users to share things on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. And social linkage leads to sales, at least on Fab, says Goldberg. If people use the social features on Fab, they buy twice as often as people who don't. Conversely, social networking played a smaller role than many thought in Cyber Monday shopping; according to IBM, social media only accounted for 0.53 percent of all online sales.

A Store Built for the iPad and iPhone

But just as droves of people are using Facebook and Twitter's mobile apps, many are using Fab's apps. The company released new iPhone and iPad apps earlier this year -- they're clean, easy to navigate and they constantly remind you what's new in the store. You can set it to alert you when new items have been added.

That leads shoppers to check for new additions to the site several times a day and ultimately buy, especially during the holiday season, according to Goldberg. He said 40 percent of Fab's holiday sales are coming from mobile users. That's more than most e-commerce sites, though more and more people are starting to shop on their phones.

"We think mobile first. Just how people check the news in the morning, we want them to check Fab in morning," Goldberg said. "That's the kind of thing we're seeing is the tablets in the evening. And we're, like, intensely studying that data and really catering that experience towards the part of the day and the device of the day the user is using."

Currently, 97 percent of Fab's mobile sales come from the iPhone and iPad. Goldberg says he has high hopes for Android, but the audience hasn't picked up as quickly as those who use Apple devices.

Really Cool Stuff

While social and mobile tools have brought users to Fab, they stay because of those odd items sitting in that room. The cool inventory is just that -- it's cool and unlike other stores on the Internet.

"Over 90 percent of the products that you find on Fab, you can't buy on Amazon or on other online retailers. And that's cause we've got this awesome team of design scouts, who literally scour the earth looking for great design finds, and based on how excited we make users," Goldberg said.

When you walk into Fab's office in New York's West Village you get an idea of just who these young, hip scouts are.

"We've gone from 100 to 650 [employees] and most people in the company are just focused on finding great products. We're constantly looking at is how do we keep it fresh, keep it new, keep it exciting. Every day on Fab we have a thousands of new arrivals," Goldberg said.

And those new arrivals range from the funky to the practical. As you'll see in this video, one of the hottest selling items this holiday season is a product called the Beardo -- a hat with a velcro beard. There's a corkscrew with an icicle, the world's largest gummy bear, popcorn with sriracha and a cat scratch pad that looks like a DJ booth. There are gloves you can use with your phone, furniture, knives and wine glass sets, jewelry, clothing and bedding.

The Next Amazon?

In many ways it's starting to look like a competitor to Amazon, and that seems to be Goldberg's end goal -- at least to a degree.

"We really want to be on Amazon's scale some day. I look at a business like IKEA, which is which is in 30 different countries around the world and over 30 billion dollars in sales. And it stands for something. It's a brand," he says.

Fab might start to have more in common than you think with an IKEA one day. When asked about opening a physical store that would allow people to come see the stuff on Fab in person, Goldberg said it's something he'd love to do.

"I think that we should be multi-device, multi-platform, and we should be where the shopper is," Goldberg said. "We could be one of the first companies that figure it out on digital first, then go to physical."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec102012

FedEx to Ship Record 19 Million Packages During 'Busiest Day'

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- FedEx is gearing up to move 19 million packages Monday on what it says will be its "busiest day in company history."

The Memphis, Tenn.-based shipping company says it will have 300,000 team members and about 20,000 seasonal workers on hand to process more than 200 packages per second.

The anticipated record volume is a direct result from an increase in online shopping during the holiday season, FedEx says.

“At FedEx, we have been preparing for this busy holiday shipping season for almost a year now,” T. Michael Glenn, executive vice president of Market Development at FedEx, said in a statement last Friday.  “The spirit and drive of our team members, backed by the efficiency of our networks, will help us deliver what we expect will be a record-breaking 280 million packages through our global networks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, up 13 percent from 2011.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov282012

Buyers May Find Better Deals on Store's Websites

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Before you head out to a retail store to buy that item you've had your heart set on, you may want to check the price listed on the retailer's website to ensure you get the best deal.

"There have always been some companies that have different online prices compared to their brick-and-mortar-store prices," Edgar Dworsky, Editor of Consumer World, tells ABC News.

In fact, Consumer Reports singled-out Radio Shack last year in its Naughty & Nice list, dinging the company for charging double the online price for an HDMI cable in stores.  Nevertheless, retailers continue to charge more in stores for two main reasons: physical stories have higher overhead, and are run by separate business units.

"The overhead for the Internet store is lower than the overhead for the brick and mortar stores.  With the online stores, they aren't paying rent or for the same number of employees," Dworsky says.

The second reason -- that online and in-store sales are usually separate -- is more complicated.

"It's been a problem for a lot of these retailers -- they are siloed in different divisions.  The online arm doesn't talk to the retail arm," says Michelle Madhok, founder of SheFinds.com and an online shopping expert.

Tod Marks, Senior Editor of Consumer Reports, says, "Some companies are set up do the online arm as a different 'corporate' entity as an explanation for the price variation.  Whether consumers choose to believe the explanation is up to them."

Retailers didn't outright explain the reasons for the overpricing in stores to ABC News.

"In most cases, Walmart.com has the same prices as Walmart stores," said Walmart's Director of Public Relations, Ravi Jariwala.  "However, like our stores, which have the ability to adjust item prices in order to be competitive within their particular trade area, Walmart.com also has to adjust prices on occasion in order to be competitive with key online competitors."

Target's spokesperson said something along the same lines: "We strive to provide competitive prices online and in our stores.  At times guests will find different prices based on what we're seeing within the competitive set, whether that's in stores or in the online space."

Macys and Kmart did not respond to ABC News' request to explain why prices are higher in their stores.

But not all is lost if you find a lower price online.  Some stores, including Target and Best Buy, will match the prices of their online counterparts.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov262012

From Click to Delivery: Inside Amazon's Cyber Monday Strategy

Digital Vision / Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The inner world of Amazon looks like a bustle of conveyor belts and bargains on Cyber Monday.

Amazon has 80 giant fulfillment centers strategically sprinkled around the globe that are ready to fulfill every order from click to delivery. The process follows miles of conveyer belts inside a massive 1.2 million-square-foot warehouse that is like the unseen shopping mall that never closes.

Josh Teeter is a former military intelligence officer and now the general manager of Amazon's Phoenix warehouse. The facility stocks everything from soccer balls to table cloths and one of the biggest tasks is making sure they always have enough of the right products.

"That's kind of the magic of Amazon and the selection. Making sure you have all that and it's here at the right time," Teeter said. "So we're the kind of customer facing side of that there's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make sure we have the right product."

You won't find any robots inside Amazon's fulfillment centers. Orders pop up on a scanner, get plucked from a shelf by hand and are then dropped into a barcoded yellow bin.

Amazon added a small army of extra workers in its fulfillment centers just to handle the holidays and all those electronics, tie-die fashion kits and heated pet bowls that absolutely must get out the door and fast.

"It gets very busy at this time, and folks work hard for sure but again, we bring in help we're hiring 50,000 seasonal employees to help meet that demand and we're excited," Corporate Vice President Craig Berman said.

Amazon has faced serious complaints that workers are pushed to the limit in tough conditions and encouraged not to report on the job injuries. But Berman was quick to point out that their employees actually make far better wages than their brick-and-mortar shopping mall counterparts.

"We are a company of constant improvement so these jobs are very, very safe jobs, and our wages, they're very well-paying jobs," Berman said.

In 2010, Cyber Monday racked up 13 million individual Amazon items sold in 24 hours. Last year the number grew to 17 million. This year, the company says, will turn out to be the biggest yet.

One of Amazon's secrets is barcodes. Everything inside their warehouses has a bar code to find it, to ship it, to track it.

But how can they have everything from medieval chainmail to clock oil and binocular magnifying glasses on hand at all times? Only part of the answer is huge inventory. The other part comes from small business owners like Dan O'Donnell whose tiny jewelry supply store, which sells that clock oil, has exploded by selling through Amazon. This small businesses' stuff show's up on Amazon's website and Amazon gets a cut of the action.

But despite the huge inventory and third party sellers, Amazon still can't guarantee the lowest prices, so be sure to shop around for the best deals.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov262012

Cyber Monday Deals Likely to Lead to Busiest Online Shopping Day

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year, is increasingly becoming Cyber Week for many retailers as many Americans prefer to avoid crowds and compare prices online.

Amazon.com, Target, Walmart were all promoting Cyber Week specials in addition to deals exclusive to Monday alone.

Shoppers are expected to spend more than $1.5 billion today, up 20 percent from last year, according to research firm comScore. Another prediction from Adobe Digital Index forecasts spending will reach $2 billion, as many shoppers were waiting for today's online deals to make their purchases.

It has already been a big holiday weekend with a record $59.1 billion spent at U.S. stores and websites, according to the National Retail Federation.

Online sales on Thanksgiving Day, traditionally not a popular day for online shopping, rose 32 percent from last year to $633 million, according to comScore. And online sales on Black Friday were up 26 percent from the same day last year, to $1.042 billion. It was the first time online sales on Black Friday surpassed $1 billion.

[ CLICK HERE TO SEE SOME OF THE BEST CYBER MONDAY DEALS ]

The National Retail Federation says 247 million shoppers hit stores and websites to cash in on savings during the holiday weekend, up 9 percent from last year. Nearly two-thirds of those shoppers went to stores or hit the web on Black Friday.

Black Friday is now history along with Small Business Saturday. Now, it's Cyber Monday's turn.

At midnight, Amazon.com was offering as much as 60 percent off a Panasonic VIERA 55-inch TV that's usually priced higher than $1,000. Sears is offering $430 off a Maytag washer and dryer, each on sale for $399. And Kmart is offering 75 percent off diamond earrings.

"Cyber Monday is really all about doing your homework, and it really means looking for the really good deals" retail analyst Marshal Cohen said. "If it's a really good deal, grab it."

But Cyber Monday might be losing its luster. The busiest day for Internet shopping has been overshadowed this year by online sales that started as early as Thanksgiving Day.

"Look for Cyber Monday to be important, but not necessarily getting that same growth rate that they've had in years past," Cohen said.

The rise in smartphones and tablets has changed consumers' shopping habits since Cyber Monday's inception seven years ago. Cyber Monday was first widely publicized by Shop.org in 2005 to persuade shoppers to buy online, as people were still warming to e-commerce.

"There were so many deals being offered online, starting from Wednesday and all the way through the weekend and now some of the money has already been spent," Cohen said.

Cyber Monday is also an easier alternative for people who don't like long lines and chaos that comes with the Black Friday weekend. This season proved to be no different from past Black Friday horror stories.

A man suspected of shoplifting two DVD players from a Lithonia, Ga., Walmart Sunday died after an altercation with two store employees and a contract security guard.

When officers arrived at the scene, they found the employees on top of the middle-aged man, according to a police report obtained by ABC News affiliate WSB-TV. When an officer bent down to handcuff the suspect, he noticed there was no resistance.

At that point, the officer noticed the suspect was bleeding from the nose and mouth, according to the report. He was transported to DeKalb Medical-Hillandale Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

"This is truly a sad situation," Dianna Gee, a Walmart spokeswoman, said in a statement issued to ABC News. "We don't know all of the facts right now. We're in the process of working with law enforcement to determine all of the facts and cooperating and providing any information we have to assist in the investigation."

Gee said the contract security guard will no longer be providing services to the retailer. The two store employees have been suspended with pay while Walmart assists police in the investigation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov262012

Cyber Monday: Five Tips for Safe Online Holiday Shopping

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- While you won't get toppled by someone racing you to get that doorbuster deal, Cyber Monday comes with its own host of dangers.

Online Black Friday shopping was already up 26 percent from last year, according to comScore, and if you review some of the major online security threats from the past year, you'll realize that this is the year to start being incredibly vigilant about how and where you are typing in your personal data online.

So before you fork over your credit card number and other information, make sure you're following these five safety tips:

1. Make sure you are buying from a secure site.

"The first thing you want to do is look at the URL and make sure it says HTTPS," says Natalie Severino, a security expert at Trend Micro.  Along with the HTTPS in the web address you want to make sure you see the small padlock icon in the address bar when you get to the payment steps.  Both of those will indicate that you are shopping on a secure site, which has a trusted and safe backend system.

2. Make sure your security software is up to date.

It seems like the obvious and boring tip, but it really is important.  Every security expert ABC News spoke with stressed that keeping the anti-virus software up to date and running should stop you from going to an unsafe shopping site.

3. Don't trust all those emails.

Your inbox may be flooded with "great Cyber Monday deal" messages, but not all of those emails are safe.  "Some of the emails and the deals seem too good to be true.  And they are," says Claudia Lombana, PayPal's Shopping Specialist.  "The best thing to do is not to click the link, and go to a new webpage and try and go to it that way.  It is only clicking links from those direct e-mail sources that can get you in trouble."

4. Use a different password at every site.

If you can learn anything from this year's online security disasters it is to never use the same password across your accounts or sites.  If you are prompted to sign up for a new account to make a purchase, make sure to create a new password.  Both Lombana and Severino suggested a password with a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.

5. Be even more mindful when shopping on your phone or tablet.

According to PayPal, there was a 193 percent increase in mobile shopping this Black Friday over last year.  And that's just the start -- the number of people shopping on their phone or tablet this holiday season is only going to go up.  The experts say, however, that those mobile shoppers need to be even more vigilant about security.  "The number one thing when shopping on a mobile device is to password-protect the phone or tablet," Lombana said.  Also, make sure to keep in mind all the other tips and always make purchases over a secure and password-protected WiFi network.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov262012

Retailers Enjoy Strong Start to Holiday Shopping Season

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Holiday sales got off to a strong start for retailers over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, with an estimated $59.1 billion in sales -- up almost $7 billion from last year -- according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.

The retail trade association reports a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the holiday weekend, up from 226 million in 2011.  The average holiday shopper spent $423 this past weekend, up from $398 last year.

Turkeys were the obvious losers on Thanksgiving Day, but retailers were the winners.  The trade report says more than 35 million Americans visited retailers’ stores and websites on Thursday, up from 29 million last year.

And surprising news for those who thought that with more retailers open on Thanksgiving Day and more bargains online, Black Friday might diminish in importance.  The survey found that some 89 million shoppers hit the malls and the Internet on Black Friday, up from 86 million in 2011.  According to the survey, 28 percent of shoppers were at stores by midnight on Black Friday, compared to 24.4 percent last year.

More than one quarter of shoppers said they shopped online on Thanksgiving Day, and nearly half did so on Black Friday.  According to the survey, the average person spent $172.42 online over the holiday weekend.

The National Retail Federation says shoppers are more conscious of how they’re spending their money, with two out of three people opting to use cash or debit instead of credit cards.

Fifty-eight percent purchased clothing and clothing accessories over the weekend, up from 51.4 percent last year.  Almost 33 percent of shoppers bought gift cards over the weekend, up nearly 10 percentage points.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio