upfront: The Most Wonderful Time

We’re practically on the eve of what’s being called the "Year of Web E-Commerce," and thanks to a couple of recent events, I’m becoming increasingly anxious to see how the Internet can help me with my holiday preparations.

Perhaps it’s those commercials that encourage busy parents to holiday shop online, rather than dragging the kids to the mall. What a great idea! So what’s been stopping me? Aside from the fact that I don’t have any kids to drag to the mall, I generally haven’t been comfortable in the past with the thought of spending money without the assistance of an actual human being.

Forrester Research Inc. (Cambridge, Mass.) reports that consumers will buy $3.5 billion worth of merchandise via the Internet during the fourth quarter of this year alone. Add to this a Visa USA survey that finds 46 percent of holiday shoppers polled indicate they plan to buy some of their gifts online.

While it’s natural to be skeptical of new technology, I realized something last week that has helped me shed my apprehensions. I bought myself a color bubble-jet printer from a catalog. It was a pleasant enough experience, until I had to verbally recite my credit card number to the operator. I’ve done this a dozen times in the past for a number of different reasons, but it dawned on me – why do I continue to conduct business this way when I can order the same product directly through the catalog company’s perfectly secure Web site?

In fact, upon closer inspection, this catalog company actually offered incentives for purchasing online that do not apply to telephone orders. If the technology is in place for me to stretch my money further, why not enjoy the shopping part of the holidays from the comfort of my own living room?

Please e-mail me with your thoughts or comments: greenemeierlg@midrangesystems.com.