November 25, 2002, 12:00 AM

Internet Retailer’sBest of the Web— The Top 50 Retailing Sites

In a year that has seen online retail sales jump by 30%, somebody must be doing something right. Or more likely, somebodies. Among those somebodies are the retailing web sites that make up the 2003 Internet Retailer Best of the Web—The Top 50 Retailing Sites. They are not exclusively the biggest, busiest or most profitable sites; they’re sites that succeed in a highly competitive market with strategies and innovative techniques that other retailers can learn from. Click here or on the headline above for a complete listing of the Top 50.

In a year that has seen online retail sales jump by 30%, somebody must be doing something right. Or more likely, somebodies. Among those somebodies are the retailing web sites that make up the 2003 Internet Retailer Best of the Web-The Top 50 Retailing Sites.

In the first nine months of this year, online retail sales reached $29.7 billion, 30% above last year’s $22.9 billion in the first nine months and nearly 90% of last year’s total online sales of $33.5 billion, reports comScore Networks Inc. ComScore expects that growth to continue through the end of the year. If it does, this year’s online sales will exceed $43 billion.

ComScore’s top categories for Q3 this year with growth the prior year were:

- Computer Hardware, up 35%

- Office Supplies, up 47%

- Apparel & Accessories, up 22%

- Consumer Electronics, up 18%

- Books, up 10%

- Home & Garden, up 16%

- Health & Beauty, up 21%

- Sport & Fitness, up 47%

- Movies & Video, up 34%.

The Top 50 sites run the gamut of retailers and sizes-from Target and Amazon.com, big and broad, to Guild.com and Fortunoff, small and focused. What they have in common is that they use the web in innovative ways and the present models that others can learn from.

- Target Corp. uses what might be called a multi-multi-channel approach. Its multiple channels are not just web, catalog and stores but its three brands as well-Target, Marshall Field’s and Mervyn’s. It allows online shoppers to buy from all three brands at the same time and check out from a single shopping cart.

- Apparel retailer Buckle Inc.’s Buckle.com puts a new spin on the multi-channel approach by giving away concert tickets to shoppers who register to win at the web site, but then requires winners to pick up the tickets in one of its 300 stores.

- Omaha Steaks International Inc. uses OmahaSteaks.com to extend its product offerings beyond its catalog and reach new customers; OmahaSteaks.com sells lobsters and side dishes-products that online customers respond to but catalog customers do not.

- Drugstore.com Inc. is a good example of how the information that the web makes available can be turned into retailing gold. Drugstore began selling pet toys, medications and supplies when it noticed that many customers used pet names as passwords.

- While many retailers are developing ever more sophisticated self-service applications on the web, electronics retailer Crutchfield is happy when shoppers contact a customer service rep. Each of Crutchfield’s 150 agents undergo three to four months of training, must pass exams and receive ongoing instruction from Crutchfield and vendors, all to the end of up-selling, cross-selling and closing more sales.

Internet Retailer Best of the Web recognizes sites in seven categories that have adopted interesting approaches to online retailing. They are not exclusively the biggest, busiest or most profitable sites. The editors base their selections on consultations with members of Internet Retailer’s Editorial Board of Advisers and with industry consultants and analysts, nominations from readers and the editors’ own experience in dealing with sites, both professionally and personally, throughout the year.

We are pleased to present this year’s Internet Retailer Best of the Web-The Top 50 Retailing Web Sites.

The following profiles were written by Kurt Peters, Mary Wagner and Paul Demery.

Data on the following pages marked with * are courtesy of comScore Networks Inc. based on a cross-section of 1.5 million Internet users who have given comScore permission to monitor their online activity.

Best Buy
1-800-Flowers
Crutchfield
American Greetings
Dell
Blue Nile
HPShopping.com
Guild
iGo.com
Ice.com
RadioShack
Red Envelope
Sharper Image
TechnoScout
Tower Records
Albertsons
Barewalls
Drugstore.com
Bellacor
Harry & David
Bombay Co.
Omaha Steaks
Cooking.com
Safeway
Crate & Barrel
Starbucks
Fortunoff
Amazon
Buckle
Buy.com
eBags
eBay
Hanna Andersson
Lowe’s
J. Crew
Office Depot
Lands’ End
QVC
Undergear
ReturnBuy
Target
Altrec
BackcountryStore
Cabela’s
Camping World
FAO Schwarz
J.C. Whitney
MLB.com/Shop
Oriental Trading
SmartBargains

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