December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

Though a tad bony on brand selection, gets a blue ribbon for best of breed

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It also recently began a partnership with an upscale dog supply site called, “In the Company of Dogs.” Be warned, however, these are gifts for those who really want to spoil their dogs and to whom money is no object. Where else can you find a luxury leopard chaise lounge for $395? Hopefully, they’ll follow suit for other animals as well.

Clearly, Americans love their pets. Industry research shows that U.S. consumers spend approximately $23 billion on their pets each year. With several other pet sites jockeying for position, it’s a dog-eat-dog world with no one online pet store dominating the market. Whether, can leap ahead of the pack remains to be seen, but it has all the fundamentals to become top dog.

- Time to load home page: 7.5 seconds

- Time to move between pages: 19.25 seconds

- Total clicks to merchandise: 2 clicks from the home page.

- Notable site features: Strives to create community for consumers. Depth of editorial content. Numerous expert sources and lots of places to seek advice. Great customer service. Strong affiliation with pet charities.

- Ease of contacting company: Very good, customer service reps are trained to kill customers with kindness.

- Ease of ordering and paying for merchandise: Well thought-out, animal and product categories are clear and easy to follow.

- Are privacy/payment policies clearly posted and explained: Privacy policy is clearly printed on center left of every page.

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