December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

15 Honorable Mentions

Alibris.com

Books

Sporting millions of hard-to-find books, this site is a collector’s dream. Search results are hard for novices to sort through. But for the shopper who knows what she wants, this is where its at for rare publications. Great print ad campaign.

ArtistDirect.com

Music merchandising

Founded by two of the Lollapalooza live music tour originators, Artistdirect runs retail web stores for hundreds of artists, as well as provides links to bands. Artistdirect’s online network provides multimedia music and content, and creates music communities to facilitate interaction between artists and fans and sells exclusive music and merchandise direct from the artist.

Boardgames.com

Toys

There’s more than one way to compete with the leaders in a category. Boardgames.com comes out a winner against the big toy sites. Easy to navigate, great WOW! factor in displaying dozens of games with one click. From 13 Dead End Street to 39 variations of Monopoly, it’s all here.

Cornerhardware.com

Hardware, tools

Like the neighborhood hardware store, this site is chock full of easy to use home improvement advice intermingled with the tools and items needed to complete the job. How-to advice is presented with clear instructions and illustrations. Product search and descriptions are top flight.

Faoschwartz.com

Toys

What a gimmick! A virtual playroom. Click on one of six products and see it rotate while a catchy little ditty plays. Visitors can see a demonstration of a product’s unique features, great for the shoes with retractable wheels or the T. rex that roars. But the site takes a long time to load, especially the virtual playroom.

GoodHome.com

Furniture

The site brings the home décor magazine format to life in an appealing interactive offering. Room planner lets shoppers plot out and visualize their purchases in charts that match their own room dimensions; products appear within the context of a room and a click of the button lets shoppers zoom in on detail. Red type lets shoppers know instantly what’s on sale.

Hammacherschlemmer.com

Unique items

A cool idea in catalogs is just as cool on the web. The site is loaded with the company’s “best” items in seemingly endless categories. Each item comes with a lenghty product description, telling why it’s the best. It also has a gift center and reduced price items.

Napster.com

Music

Not a retail site-yet. Napster is here because it changed the way people buy music. And it’s trying to come up with a plan by which music fans will pay for what they want. Now there’s an idea.

Planetrx.com

Pharmacy

This pharmacy site brings in-depth, easy-to-read content and shopping to consumers. Visitors can research particular drugs and ailments, or chat with other users. The site has a first-time visitors section to walk those unfamiliar with the site through the process. The company also gives free standard shipping for prescription orders.

Potterybarn.com

Home furnishings

Great job of replicating the store and the catalog on the web. Its look is very au courant so if there are any 21st Century hipsters who don’t know the brand, they’ll love it right away. Navigation can be a bit confusing. From the home tour, it’s hard to tell how to get back to the general shopping areas.

SteveMadden.com

Shoes

There’s no shortage of funky footwear at Stevemadden.com and hitting the sales category is worth every click. In addition to shoes, Stevemadden.com keeps tabs on style trends, matches shoes and advice with lifestyles and sells accessories, handbags, outerwear and clothes, as well as offering “Maddenworld” features such as ecards, love horoscopes and a Steve Madden fan club.

Target.com

Discount department store

Target.com has been selective, picking 10 categories geared to a higher-end demographic more likely to shop the web. Brand exclusives keep customers coming back and easy search options speed up shopping. It’s doing fine with a clean and visually appealing offering that wrangles a manageable 15,000 SKUs.

Urbanoutfitters.com

Apparel

Urbanoutfitters.com models its hip clothing in innocuous, urbanized settings (like a rolling corrugated door). The site also features streaming music, keeping in line with the stores’ philosophy of playing trendy, hard-to-find music to accompany the Urban Outfitters shopping experience.

Victoriassecret.com

Lingerie

Victoria’s Secret has redesigned its web site to include The Wish List, Gift Search, Electronic Gift Certificates and a collection of pre-wrapped gifts. It’s a sleek and sexy site that complements its offering. Color swatches appear with each product available in more than one color. However, the automatic dropdown menus can be confusing to navigation.

WhiteFlowerFarm.com

Gardening

This site serves up detailed horticulture information in spades alongside high-quality product images for serious perennial gardeners who don’t need an online community to know what they want. Suggested companion plants pop up for plant specimens being considered and a down-the-garden-path feature links to data-packed web sites all over the world.

 

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