November 28, 2007, 12:00 AM

The Internet Retailer Hot 100 Retail Web Sites

The top 100 e-retailers lead by example in innovation, design, risk taking, trend setting and knowing customers extremely well.

The Internet Retailer Hot 100
Best Retail Web Sites

(click on category to view site profiles)

Apparel & Accessories
6pm.com
Abercrombie.com
AE.com
Anthropologie.com
BrooksBrothers.com
CafePress.com
Coach.com
DavidsBridal.com
Gap
Guess Jeans
JCrew.com
Karmaloop.com
Kohls.com
Nike.com
NineWest.com
PacSun.com
Patagonia.com
Rampage.com
Skechers.com
Swell.com
Timberland.com
Undergear.com
VeraBradley.com
Vivre.com
WorkingPerson.com

Books/Film/Music
AbeBooks.com
Audible.com
BarnesandNoble.com
Chapters.Indigo.ca
eCampus.com
FYE.com
Netflix.com

Computers/Electronics
Abt.com
Apple.com
Dell Home & Home Office
HPShopping.com
Palm.com
PCConnection.com
PCUniverse.com
SonyStyle.com
TigerDirect.com
YourElectronicWarehouse.com

Flowers/Gifts/Jewelry
1-800-Flowers.com
AmericanGreetings.com
BlueNile.com
DelightfulDeliveries.com
GiftTree.com
JTV.com

Food/Drug
CarolsDaughter.com
Drugstore.com
FoodNetworkStore.com
HarryandDavid.com
KLWines.com
LakeChamplainChocolates.com
Lancome-USA.com
MyMMs.com
Romanicos.com
Wine.com

Hardware/
Home Improvement

AceHardware.com
HomeDepot.com
Lowes.com
RepairClinic.com
Rockler.com

Housewares/
Home Furnishings

CrateandBarrel.com
LillianVernon.com
Oneida.com
RestorationHardware.com
StacksandStacks.com
Vivaterra.com
Williams-Sonoma.com

Mass Merchants/
Department Stores

Amazon.com
Buy.com
Costco.com
JCPenney.com
Macys.com
NetShops.com
Overstock.com
Shop.com
ShopNBC.com
Walmart.com

Specialty/Non-Apparel
AmericanStationery.com
Art.com
Bulbs.com
Diapers.com
DrsFosterSmith.com
Levenger.com
PetsUnited
PlumberSurplus.com
PowerEquipmentDirect.com
ShopPBS.com
Shutterfly.com
Step2.com

Sporting Goods
Altrec.com
BestKiteboarding.com
Bodybuilding.com
Cabelas.com
DicksSportingGoods.com
Golfballs.com
Moosejaw.com
REI.com

Here`s the bottom line about being a market leader: It`s not just about the bottom line.

Market leaders in e-commerce stand out in the crowd because, among other things, they are innovative and engaging, create striking and effective site designs, do something critical such as site search better than the rest, take risks on new concepts and technologies such as social networking and Ajax, set trends such as m-commerce rather than wait and see, and know their customers extraordinarily well, exceeding their desires and needs. These are among the qualities, which ultimately can lead to a healthy bottom line, that vaulted e-retailers into the Hot 100.

Bodybuilding.com is an excellent example of a market-leading e-retailer using the latest Internet concepts and tools to greatly enhance the web experience to satisfy and support customers, keeping them and its business healthy.

"We are building something that is not just based on making money," says Ryan DeLuca, CEO of the health and fitness products e-retailer. "Everything we add to our site is based on helping visitors reach their goals. Helping our visitors stick to their programs and reach their goals will ultimately lead to much higher revenue, a much more valuable brand based on emotional connections, and more profitability based on increased customer loyalty."

Shrewd investments
DeLuca puts his money where his mouth is, investing in Web 2.0 strategies that have paid off. Customers have embraced myriad useful resources and Bodybuilding.com has enjoyed financial rewards.

The site offers 20,000 pages of content from experts and consumers and an online forum where more than 800,000 fitness buffs have posted 19 million messages over the past five years (and is the 34th biggest online forum on the web as measured by forum tracker Big Boards). And it features 24 educational online video series, functionality that enables a user to create his own blog, and a social network called BodySpace--which includes links to the online store--that has amassed 117,000 members.

"There is no doubt our community and social networking offerings are making a big difference for sales and conversion," DeLuca says. "Since we added BodySpace, our average order size is up nearly $10 to $92.41, and our conversion rate is 8%, up from 7% a year ago. That one percentage point is huge."

Other Hot 100 e-retailers that offer online forums, social networking and other community-oriented tools include AbeBooks.com, Amazon.com, Netflix and PetsUnited.

At the same time, an e-retailer does not have to be big and muscular like Bodybuilding.com and others with Web 2.0 offerings galore to be a market leader. Nor does it have to be laden with bells and whistles. Shoppers at RepairClinic.com, for example, find a no-frills site. RepairClinic.com sets itself apart, though, with a wealth of online informational resources and a web tool that`s quicker than the eye.

The PartDetective "smart search" tool is the web retailer`s shining star. Site search can be a frustrating affair on many e-commerce sites. At RepairClinic.com, a shopper can very quickly drill down through the e-retailer`s stock of more than 600,000 appliance parts to find the most obscure item imaginable. In as little as 10 seconds a shopper can find a much-needed item he doesn`t even know how to identify.

Also, RepairClinic.com`s RepairGuru section offers information and repair how-to`s on every major appliance. Rather than kick their broken washing machines, shoppers can click to the washing machine gallery to find an abundance of educational information. Or they can ask questions of RepairClinic.com`s repair guru, who helps people solve problems free of charge.

RepairClinic.com has been doing such a good job, in fact, that retail giant Home Depot, also a Hot 100 e-retailer, in late October announced a partnership with the parts merchant. Goliath now has David as its appliance parts specialist.

Taking a chance
Site search, present at the birth of the web, is crucial to success in e-commerce, and RepairClinic.com does it well. The web, however, births new technology at a lightning pace, and Internet users embrace new tools quickly. Because of this, smart e-retailers stay on top of web technology developments--and quickly consider whether they need to adopt new technology.

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