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Back in Black: Online Store and the Big Day


No, it’s not a Vincent Price movie. “Black Friday” is the name anxious retailers have given to the day after Thanksgiving, when holiday shoppers hit the malls in greater numbers (we hope) than on any other day of the year. The “Black” stands for black ink—handy for warding off creditors. While it doesn’t actually rank first in sales—most industry analysts place it fifth—Black Friday draws the most traffic retailers will see all year, and that’s no less true for Internet retail, which saw the highest number of online shoppers tracked by the Index thus far during holiday season 2004, with 26 percent more shoppers, or 13.3 million people, visiting online stores on November 26 than the previous Friday, November 19 according to Nielsen//NetRatings, which further reported online shopping jumped 11% the day after Thanksgiving 2004 as compared to 2003. (2002 saw online shopping on Black Friday jump 36 percent over the previous Friday, with the Toys and Games category seeing a 39 percent increase. ComScore Networks Inc. reported total Internet sales for the Friday after Thanksgiving reached $151 million, a 40 percent increase from 2001.)

“Even diehard holiday shoppers that weather the Black Friday crowds at sunrise know to research the Web for product selection and price comparisons before heading out to the mall,” said Ken Cassar, director of client analytics, Nielsen//NetRatings. “Online shoppers deluged the Web sites of their favorite brick-and-mortar stores, as well as online retail resources.

eBay was the top online shopping site the day after Thanksgiving with 5.4 million unique audience. Amazon followed with 2.6 million, while Wal-Mart Stores saw 1.4 million shoppers. Rounding out the Top 5 sites were Target and BestBuy.com with 923,000 and 847,000 unique audience, respectively. ToysRUs came at number 10 with 642,000 visitors. (Nielsen//NetRatings Top Online Shopping Destinations, Nov. 26)

The day after Thanksgiving saw Toys and Video Games taking the largest jump, growing 152 percent in visitors at home as compared to the previous Friday, according to the Nielsen//NetRatings Holiday eShopping Index Consumer Electronics spiked 94 percent in traffic, while Shopping (nielsen-netratings.com/pr/pr_041129.pdf)

Comparison/Portals rose 75 percent. Computer Hardware/Software and Books/Music/Video rose 54 percent and 50 percent, respectively.

According to Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for The NPD Group, “The power of the day depends on the category of business you are looking at. Some products, such as toys that are the hot item, will tend to sell heavily on Black Friday. If the consumer is not brand/product specific, they will wait until the key items go on sale.”

In Internet retail, the concept of a “sale” is made moot by a retail environment where prices fluctuate moment-to moment, and shoppers have a global selection at their fingertips. However, good service can make the difference in cyberspace just as it does in the harried realm of face-to-face holiday shopping. Vividence, a consulting firm specializing in improving the online shopping experience, compiled 10 tips for creating a retail site that will make e-shoppers glad to have skipped the mall frenzy.

1.) Save Customers’ Shopping Carts. Many online shoppers place something in an e-basket, then get cold feet or decide to check out the competition before buying. Many will return to your site looking for that special something that—as they now know—only your store offers. Save your customers’ shopping cart items for 30 days to make it easy for them to continue shopping where they left off.

2.) Offer Promotions or Incentives to Purchase. Most specialty stores can’t match mass retailers on price, so use your ace in the hole: service. Free shipping, gift-wrap or cards can make the difference.

3.) Display Shipping Prices Early. Shipping costs are one surprise no one wants to unwrap. Let customers choose a shipping option with their purchase, and have the cost clearly visible in the shopping cart.

4.) Make Site Registration Optional. Time is short during the holiday frenzy -- who has time to fill out a tedious registration form? Let them go from cart to checkout without interruption.

5.) Offer a Charitable Donation Tie-in. We all feel more generous at this time of year. Customers will feel better about maxing out their Visa if they know part of their debt is going to a good cause.

6.) Replenish Stock. No one has the time to check back in a week to see if your site has finally restocked the item they’re looking for. Make sure your top sellers are on the shelves, or give customers a date that the item will ship when it arrives.

7.) Provide Order Tracking. It will give your customers piece of mind and reduce the number of “Where’s my Stuff?” calls to your store.

8.) Shorten the Checkout Process. Don’t make them go through five pages of entry fields -- one is more than enough.

9.) Be Clear About Delivery Time. Shoppers need to know whether their procrastination has necessitated overnight or two-day delivery.

10.) Provide Paper Gift Certificates. Customers prefer paper to e-mail, and gift certificates often influence purchases.

December 2004 Toy Watch list:

ToyDirectory.com (R) tracking softwares indicates unusual interest in the following products by consumers who use the Internet to research toys before making purchasing decisions.





MSRP: $10
Age Range: 8 and up
Category: Arts & Crafts



Create a special thank you holiday gift with a Personalized Shrinky Dinks Christmas Tree. Members will have such fun selecting a preprinted mini-ornament, coloring it in and putting their name on it.

ToyDirectory Product ID#: 496      (added 9/1/2004)
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MSRP: $14.95
Category: Arts & Crafts



This Cast & Paint kit contains everything you need to make 3 matchbox size race cars. Cast, paint, decorate and race your custom race cars on Hot Wheels size tracks.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 327      (added 9/1/2004)
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MSRP: $4.99
Age Range: 10 and up
Category: Arts & Crafts



Will you marry Doug or Todd? Will you drive a red or a blue Ferrari? Will you live in a Mansion, an Apartment, a Shack or a House? Discover the answers to these and other vital questions about your future with our fun ?destiny? quizzes. Each set comes with 27 games and a purple mini-ball point pen. Awesome for sleep-overs and stocking stuffers!
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 348      (added 9/1/2004)
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MSRP: $10.00
Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts



This complete Shrinky Dinks kit allows everyone to make Christmas themed, ornaments, gift tags, stick ons or rings and magnets from Shrinky Dinks shrinkable plastic. All of the sheets are pre-printed with original designs, ready for you to color in, cut out and bake to shrink.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 495      (added 9/1/2004)
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MSRP: $9.99
Age Range: 6 to 13
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts



This kit includes a space-age blacklight decoder ring,  a blacklight spaceship ring/pendant, a UV pen, a notepad (for invisible notes) and tattoo stencils (for invisible tattoos.) Nobody can tell what has been written or drawn without the light from the ring. 
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 347      (added 9/1/2004)
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MSRP: $7.99
Age Range: 6 to 13
Gender: Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts



Got secrets? Then you need to keep them secret with this amazing Blacklight Jewelry set! Each package has a pink star, blacklight ring/necklace, a UV pen, a notepad (for invisible notes) and tattoo stencils (for invisible tattoos!) Nobody will know what you´ve written or drawn without the light from your ring.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 346      (added 9/1/2004)
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MSRP: $4.99
Age Range: 10 and up
Gender: Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts



?What?s your coolest quality? ? ?Is your Life a Drama or Comedy?? ?Are you Pop or Punk Rock?? Play Quizzlers with your BFF?s and explore who you really are! Each set comes with seven, magazine style Personality Quizzes that six friends can play. We?ve also included six sets of way-cool identification stickers and a mini-ball point pen. Awesome for sleep-overs and stocking stuffers!
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 349      (added 9/1/2004)
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Age Range: 12 and up
Gender: Girls
Category: Outdoor Fun
Sporting Goods & Accessories



It's better than a boat. It's better than a jet ski. The AquaSkipper is the coolest product to hit the water in years. Unlike other human-powered watercraft, its unique hydrofoil wings and fiberglass spring let you fly across the water by simply hopping up and down. Since the hydrofoil has very little drag in the water, you can move at speeds of up to 17 mph. It's environmentally friendly...no fuel, no noisy engines and its maintenance free. With the AquaSkipper, you can ride on waves, try new tricks, and race your friends. Any way you use it, the AquaSkipper is fun and a great way to exercise. View Demo Video
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 539      (added 9/1/2004)
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MSRP: $14.99
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Girls
Category: Licensed Products



Featuring characters from Frosty the Snowman, Dr. Seuss´ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Comin´ to Town, this gorgeous 8 piece glass ornament collection is sure to be a fabulous addition to your holiday ornament collection. Each pieces is hand blown and hand painted plus embellished with sparkling glitter.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 270      (added 9/1/2004)
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MSRP: $15.00
Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts



TileArt is a FAST, EASY and FUN way to create beautiful finished art using high gloss self adhesive vinyl tiles. Simply fill in the color coded pattern with the tiles...Like painting by number without the brush!
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 623      (added 9/1/2004)
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MSRP: $12.95
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts



Mold-It is a fascinating, educational, and creative introduction to the mold-making process. Learn how and why paleontologists and archaeologists use mold making to duplicate precious, rare fossils and artifacts.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 326      (added 9/1/2004)
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MSRP: $159.95
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction



Kids from 9 to 99 can build their own roller coaster with the “RollerCoaster Tycoon” Roller Coaster Construction Set (RCCS). The RCCS was named Best of Show at the Western Toy and Hobby Show. The RCCS is challenging and fosters creativity because there are limitless possibilities in design variations and improvements. As the RCCS is easy to assemble, alter and disassemble, friends can combine individual models to make one gigantic floor-to-ceiling coaster. Physically accurate to look and perform just like a real steel roller coaster, the RCCS is bound to give hours of imaginative fun. A full line of accessories is available, sold separately.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 583      (added 9/1/2004)
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MSRP: $149.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Collectibles



The Favorite Collection Soft Model Dinosaur Series by Favorite Co. is the hottest selling line of dinosaur replica toys on the market.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 277      (added 9/1/2004)
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MSRP: $14.00
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush



"Walter the Farting Dog—star of the best-selling books by William Kotzwinkle, Glenn Murray and Audrey Colman—is up for adoption. Bring him home to live with your family and watch everyone's mood brighten. Sure, he looks as adorable as the next puppy, but watch out—when you squeeze him, he lets out a loud doggie fart! He’s an irresistible giggle-inducer for children and the young at heart." - Aire Norell. Walter the Farting Dog is also available in a large 18" size ($40.00 MSRP).
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 366      (added 9/1/2004)
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MSRP: $14
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Dolls



With a little magic and a splash of cold water, little girls can discover color change surprises on their Little Princess Magic Color Change Surprise Belle Princess dolls. By using the applicator wand, girls can change the color of the dolls? fingernails and lip color, make face paint and bracelet designs appear, change the fabric color of the dolls? outfits and make necklaces change color, too!
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 575      (added 9/1/2004)
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