Toy wars on the Internet
November 13, 1998
CNN -- Holiday shopping can turn into a nightmare of overworked parents facing long lines and herding overstimulated children through overcrowded aisles of endless toys.
But there is an alternative. Parents could avoid the malls and do their shopping in the peace and quiet of their own homes by ordering their gifts over the Internet.
Terry Sieber does a little of both types of shopping.
"What I like about the Internet is the convenience. If you already know what you want to purchase, then you don't have to get out there and elbow everybody," explained Sieber.
Internet shopping is spawning a gigantic industry.
"E-commerce last year, revenues totaled about $3 billion," reported retail analyst Ken Cassar. "We anticipate they'll total about $7 billion in 1998. And the forecast for 2002 is $41.1 billion."
One company is called E-Toys. The only way you can get a toy from its huge warehouse is over the Internet. The company is about a year and a half old.
"Growth has been tremendous. We expect to do about 20 times what we did last Christmas this Christmas," said Toby Lenk of E-Toys.
E-Toys isn't alone on the Internet. Toys"R"Us has also gone online for shoppers, and there are others.
But while the battle for market dominance on the Internet is definitely heating up, not everyone is so sure about using a computer to buy toys.
"I guess on the computer, nowadays, it seems like they can get into whatever, so I'd be concerned about them being able to get the credit card number," said one worried parent.
Others say they love the crowds and like to feel the toys hands-on before buying. But as consumers march into the next century, would-be Santas may find their hands more often on a mouse than a toy.
Correspondent Greg LaMotte contributed to this report.
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