Pundits Say The Darndest Things

James Freeman, Forbes

Upshot: Upset about online retailers tracking your buying habits? Get over it.

Instead, worry that they're not protecting your credit card number.

The Threat: If the hacker "Maxus" broke into CD Universe's database and stole 25,000 credit card numbers, there could be more where that came from. In the grand scheme of things, why do we care if Amazon knows we like John Grisham?

Quote: "There is no privacy problem on the Internet. There is a security problem."

The Real Danger Online

Forbes

John Dodge, Wall Street Journal

Upshot: Shoppers harbor unrealistic expectations for e-commerce, and when the inevitable letdown comes, e-shops get bad word-of-mouth.

The Flubs: Gap.com and eToys didn't tell customers their items of choice were out of stock. Barnesandnoble.com doesn't accept Barnes & Noble gift certificates. Big whoop, perhaps, but tell that to disgruntled - and vocal - shoppers.

Quote: "Surveys ... found that 90 percent of customers who shopped online during the holidays were satisfied. But what about the other 10 percent? And what about the people they talk to who may not try a given site - or who may put off trying online shopping indefinitely?"

A Customer-Service Mantra Can Rebound on E-TailersWall Street Journal [Paid subscription required.]Bob Tedeschi, New York Times Upshot: To succeed online, cosmetics retailers need to sell the "Big Three:" Lancome, Estee Lauder and Clinique. Trouble is, those companies don't let Web sites sell their products.

Possible Solutions: BeautyJungle.com offers "microsites" where elite retailers can control how their goods are displayed. IBeauty.com gets its stock from "nonmanufacturer sources" and sells Estee Lauder and Lancome anyway. Eve.com skips the Big Three and focuses on other uptown brands.

The Ambiance Tax: "In Saks, you buy the whole ambiance ... How can prestige brands differentiate themselves at an online store? Why pay $30, not $10, if you're not enjoying this shopping experience that much more?" - Karen Shoenbart, group president of research and consulting firm NPD Group.

How to Lure Prestigious Beauty Goods to CyberspaceTimes[Registration required.]

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