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Christmas shopping online might or might not be for everyone.

By: Ebe Heng, Tue Jan 17th, 2006

Christmas shopping online is not for you? If you are one of those that share this thought, you probably like to enjoy the atmosphere of physical shopping. Doing your Chrismas shopping online despite all its convenience, lack the festive mood. The convenience of online shopping has reduced the shopping experience to a browse and click mode, no mood and very little atmosphere.

So, you might think that despite the staggering numbers that shows how many people are actually doing their Christmas shopping online, they are just a minority out of the entire Chrismas shopping population. Well, while I do not have the statistics to back this up this thinking is likely to be true

To ascertain the fact that the Christmas shopping online folks are really a sub-set of the Chrismas shopping crowd, just visit Marcy s, Barnes and Noble or one of the large departmental stores during the pre-Christmas period, and the crowd you see would highlight the fact that a very large proportion of shoppers are still doing their shopping offline.

And of course, it is this crowd that give rise to the Chrismassy feelings. Never mind that you have to wait an hour to find a parking lot or half an hour to pay for your purchases, this feeling enhanced by the jingles that flood the stores is something that doing your Christmas shopping online would never be able to offer.

Having said so much about the value of shopping physically, are there any merits to doing your Chrismas shopping online? Yes, from my own experience there are at least two major contributions that doing your Christmas shopping online can provide.

First, Chrismas shopping online eliminates the hassle of browsing and deciding at absolutely ground zero on the spot. Imagine you are doing shopping with only a vague idea of what to buy for whom and your only reference is some scribbling on a post-it note.

Enter online Christmas shopping, and you are able to browse online and zero in on the category of items that you would like to get for your love ones. One of the biggest value of Internet is it allows you to conduct your research and craft a comprehensive list of items that you would like to get for your love ones. So that, when you are doing it physically, all you have to do is to choose from the different brands and decide on the ones that have the best value. Thus, saving time and allowing you to buy for more people in lesser trips.

The other contribution of online Chrismas shopping is that it is able to take care of your bulk purchases . What I mean is during this festive season of giving and sharing, there would be lots of gifts exchange, and gifts giving to acquaintances.

So, for this group of people, you would probably be getting something that is nice but would not invest too much thought into it, and then you would buy plenty of it to last through the season. Doing your Christmas shopping for these folks online frees out more time for you during those shopping mall trips to choose something special for your love ones. It also takes care of the inconvenience of bringing a lot of stuff yourself (online shopping would have the purchase deliver right to your door steps).

There you have it! Online Chrismas shopping allows you to do a thorough research on the gifts to get for your love ones and it also gives you more time in physically shopping for those gifts by allowing you to buy the generic stuff online. So, using technology allows you to enjoy the magic feeling of shopping under the thick Christmas atmosphere provides by shopping malls with lesser things on your mind to worry about.

Having said all these, I hope you folks would integrate (what a word!) online shopping to brighten your overall Chrismas shopping experience and enhances the joy and magic buying for those special ones

Merry Christmas!

Ebe editor@christmasgiftsshopping www.christmasgiftsshopping.com

About the author: Ebe is the editor of www.christmasgiftsshopping.com, which provides quality Christmas related links and articles to better the joyous occasion. He reviews and ensures all contributions lead to a fun and easy online shopping experience for Chrismas gifts




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Tips to Save Time & Money Christmas Shopping Online

By: Kim Wutzke, Sat Dec 10th, 2005

So Christmas is a few months away. Seems like a lot of time but we all know how quickly time passes to the holidays. It feels like you have plenty of time to get all the shopping, cleaning and organizing done before the holidays hit. But do you ever get it all done without stressing out?

Get a jump start this year and shop early online. Here s a couple of big time and money saving tips that will relieve some of your holiday stress.

Many sites will wrap your gifts in holiday or any occasion gift wrap. Some online gift shops will do this service for free and year round as well! It is well worth your time to do a search for free gift wrap and can save you several dollars a package. It also saves you the time and trouble of buying gift wrap and wrapping each gift. Many shops will include your personal message and gift card as well, again saving time and money.

Start your Chrismas shopping now so you can easily compare products and prices before you buy. A lot of gift shops are now offering a Price Match guarantee. Read each stores info on their program so you can take advantage of their offer to match competitor s prices. This is a great way to know you won t be paying too much for your gifts.

Here s a big secret in saving time and adding lots of convenience to your online shopping for Christmas. Some shops will actually let you purchase in advance and then specify a ship by date, i.e., buy in May and have it shipped in December. This is rarely advertised on sites but a quick e-mail to the shop may give you surprising results. No need to pay extra shipping having it shipped to you when you buy early, then you having to pay, again, to have it shipped to your recipient. This saves a lot of Cristmas bucks!

How cool is that? Shop for Christmas in July, have it gift wrapped for free, free gift card and message and shipped in December! Look at all the money you can save and time you have left for cleaning, organizing and you!

About the author: Please keep intact. We offer Free Gift Wrap, Free Gift Message and gift card! All this and great Cabin themed gifts & decor, fishing gifts, black bear gifts, deer antler scrimshaw and decorating articles. All rights Reserved copyright 2005 Log Cabin Fever Gifts & Decor




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Online Comparison Shopping At Christmas

By: Rachel Lane, Thu Jun 8th, 2006

Credit can often be the first thing we think of at Christmas, whether it's taking out a personal loan, credit card or simply the extension of an overdraft. However, saving money at Cristmas isn't just a matter of searching for the best personal finance product. This article gives you a few tips on how to make the most of the internet for your Cristmas shopping.

Tip number one: get your credit sorted first

Most of us will borrow money this Christmas - whether that's through a personal loan, credit card or simply moving further into our overdraft. However, as you may be aware - personal finance products vary enormously and it's worth making sure you have the best personal loan before you start spending it, likewise when you conduct a credit card search, you want to ensure that what you've offered is the best deal. Bear in mind that even internet promotions bear geographical significance. For example - if you live in the UK - the search term "Credit Card UK" is likely to give a much more relevant result than simply "Credit Card", which will take your search out to global credit card sites - the same applies to a personal loan search.

Tip number two:

Use the search engines and price comparison sites. Search engines can be very helpful, but they function on technical sorting - rather than human sorting. Sometimes websites such as moneynet.co.uk and lowermybills can save you the time of sifting through lots of irrelevant sites - as they have dedicated teams which comb the financial press and short list the best consumer deals.

Tip number three:

Set yourself up with online bank accounts. There has been lots of press about consumer concern of online security, yet the reality is that 1) online security for shopping and banking is extremely robust and 2) your money is as safe online as it is anywhere else - fraud exists at all transaction points - not just those on the internet. Online bank accounts can save you bank charges when you're transferring money and you can track your finances throughout the Cristmas period, regardless of whether the banks are open or not. With online banking, your finances are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Tip number four:

Make a list of what you intend to buy people and then conduct some price comparison research online. Websites such as Kelkoo, Ciao and PriceRunner can help you source the lowest price for what you're looking for, but you may find that some online retailers can beat their bricks and mortar counterparts anyway. For example, Amazon and eBay have gained huge popularity because they're easy to buy from and they give significant discounts over the High Street.

When you buy online - you also have more choice than what's available in your high street. Online specialists such as CCL - a computer specialist ( http://www.cclonline.com/ ), Stand & Deliver - audio visual furniture, Crave - a maternity fashion site, The Christmas Hamper Store ( http://www.christmashamper.c om/ ) and headSpun - an online music merchandise store allow you shop for your entire family, without you leaving the house. This saves you shoe leather, shopping queues, car park fees, heavy bags and you don't have to be sneaky about buying things when the kids aren't looking!

The diversity of online retail stores takes the emotional strain out of Christmas shopping. Even traditional high-street favourites, such as H Samuel, have their own online store, as traditional gifts such as watches ( http://www.hsam uel.co.uk/webstore/watches.do ) and collectibles remain popular, despite the emergence of techno-gifts like the iPod or latest Sony Ericsson multimedia mobile phone.

A lot of sites have very modest delivery charges and sometimes these are waived completely under special conditions. In addition, providing you're not doing your online shopping on Cristmas Eve - delivery services are usually very quick. For example, Justtoys.com pledges to despatch toys on the same day as the order, providing the order is placed before 3pm. This site in particular has enjoyed the benefits of adults returning to their youth, with increased sales of retro-toys such as the New Series Radio Controlled Dalek.

If you have any concerns about (or problems with) an online retailer, the vast majority have customer help lines - which are either free or charged at local rate, or there is an e-mail address for sales queries. In essence - online retailing has become so secure and sophisticated now, why isn't everyone doing their Christmas shopping online?

Credit information for Christmas: http://www.moneynet.co.uk/personal-loan-guide/index.shtml

About the author: Rachel writes about financial and retail consumer issues for a variety of online publications, including her own personal finance blog Cashzilla ( http://www.cashzilla.co.uk ). For further information, please e-mail rachel@positiveinterest.com




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Marketing online? Time to think Christmas!

By: Rob Sullivan, Fri Mar 3rd, 2006

For many retailers now is the time to think Christmas. This is because at least in terms of search engines now is the time to make changes so that they have registered in the organic index. But what does one have to do in order to prepare for their Chirstmas time online marketing campaign? In this article, I give some pointers on how to prepare your organic optimization strategy.

It seems that every year I have to remind my e-tail clients to prepare for the upcoming season because while it's still sunny and warm out, they aren't thinking Christmas (conversely, they aren't thinking summertime in the middle of February either).

But from a search engine perspective one must prepare a few months in advance of the season to ensure they reach their full potential.

All to often business has to be turned away because an online retailer comes to my company in November hoping to compete organically for the Christmas market. When you tell them that they won't even begin to rank until January they get very upset.

But this is the reality of today's search engines. It can (and usually does) take 2 months or more for changes to be registered and begin competing. In competitive markets it can take even longer. While in the most competitive markets it can take years to establish oneself as an authority figure.

So at the very least, now is the time to get your campaign in order.

That means researching keywords, re-optimizing if necessary and ensuring your site is found in all the major search engines and directories. So let's look at the steps necessary:

Step one - research the keywords your customers will use

As I mentioned in a previous article, you first need to know who your customers are. Only then can you perform a proper keyword analysis.

And I suggest that you do have to perform such an analysis, even if you know what keywords were used last year. This is because trends change, and people's search habits change as well.

Last year your customers may have been new to the whole online shopping experience. But this year, they are much more experienced and are likely more able to search and find what they are looking for.

Also, search engines have changed from what they were a year ago. Not only is MSN a new engine, but Yahoo! and Google have also changed their ranking algorithms somewhat in the past year.

That doesn't mean that you should totally forget about last year's referrals however. No, I'd use them, but use them as a starting point.

Now since you are going to be researching for future traffic, you can't really use existing tools such as Yahoo!s keyword suggestion tool or Google's AdWords sandbox as effectively because they report on historical search trends.

They can help you create a larger keyword basket, however. One that you can then use to help refine your keyword choices and pick phrases which should drive traffic to your site.

Therefore you also can not rely on the search volumes provided by such services. You should have a pretty good idea (again based on last years traffic) what types of phrases will drive visitors to your site. In this case it is safe to rely on your gut and judgment as there is nothing else to help guide you.

Optimizing existing content Once you've created your list of phrases it is time to re-optimize some pages for those terms you think will drive the most traffic in a few months. Remember, you are doing a little forward thinking here, trying to anticipate what your future customers will do.

Be sure to follow the optimization guidelines provided in the article I mentioned earlier. You can also follow the guidelines set forth by Google as they generally apply to all engines.

However you do it, try to optimize pages that perhaps aren't performing as well as other pages. You don't want to harm existing traffic, you only want to increase the potential of future traffic.

To be sure you don't harm existing traffic, take a look at your analytics to find out what phrase are currently driving traffic, and which pages people are landing on. These are the pages you don't want to change unless you absolutely have to. Instead, look for those pages which may apply to your new phrases and optimize those pages for the phrases.

Create new content

Chances are you won't be able to do too much to the existing site without harming current rankings. Therefore it may be time to create new content suited to the new keywords you've chosen.

Try to create useful pages, however. Don't make them too promotional and be sure to link them to other pages within your site, such as product pages, or pages with more information. Don't just copy an existing page and re-word it either. It's best to create fresh new content and work it into the existing site.

Plan a PPC budget

I can almost guarantee you there will be more websites this year than last year competing for that online market space. As more and more retailers find out just how inexpensive online marketing is compared to other forms of marketing they will begin to invest heavily in a web presence. This makes it harder for everyone else to rank competitively. After all, there is only so much screen space to go around.

If this happens to you and you find someone like Walmart or Sears moving into your space, it might be worthwhile to invest in a PPC campaign, at least through the Chirstmas season.

Consider starting just after Thanksgiving, and watch when you get the most clicks (and sales) through the campaign. Then as the weeks go on you can modify the campaign advertising only when you get the most exposure. This will help you keep costs down as you won't be paying for clicks at off peak times which drive little sales to your site.

This type of bidding, often referred to as day parting, is an effective way to maximize your cost per click, and return on investment.

Also, be sure to end your campaign before the last day you can promise shipping. In other words, if you know that it takes 5 days to ship your product to your customer, then quit your PPC campaign on the 18th or 19th. This way you don't have upset customers who can't get their gifts by the 24th. This will also save you some money as in some cases the last few days before Christmas become the most active PPC spendings days.

Hope for the best but prepare for the worst

As with any online venture, there is the potential for failure. Your web server could fail, or your site could go down just at a crucial crawling period. While these types of things rarely do happen, they none-the-less do occur from time to time.

Therefore you shouldn't focus just on the holiday season. You must also try and prepare for the times after Chirstmas when you will still get customers. That is why I said earlier not to mess too much with existing rankings or keywords. Why shoot yourself in the foot?

It's best to try and prepare for what's coming a few months down the road.

In the end, planning for Christmas shopping online isn't much different than what a store has to go through. They want to keep their Halloween product on the shelves until Halloween yet they have to balance that with the Christmas gifts they could be selling at the same time.

Balance is required with your website as well, you don't want to alienate existing customers by focusing on Chirstmas sales, just like you don't want to lose Christmas sales preparing for boxing week.

So, as you move forward planning your Christmas online marketing campaign be cognizant of the other efforts you could be exploring, such as a PPC campaign for those phrases which you won't be able to compete for effectively. Because you never know what other potential lies out there waiting for you to discover it.

About the author: About the author: Rob Sullivan - SEO Specialist and Internet Marketing Consultant. Any reproduction of this article needs to have an html link pointing to http://www.textlinkbrokers.com




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6 Christmas Shopping Tips You Must Know

By: Rosie Fletcher, Fri Jun 2nd, 2006

There are a variety of opportunities for holiday shoppers, including stores, catalogs and the internet. Below are 6 Christmas Shopping tips that should:

Christmas Shopping Tip #1: Shop Early

If you're heading out to the mall this year, have your shopping list ready. It's a good idea to shop early in the season because, if you wait too long, that perfect gift may already be under someone else's tree.

Christmas Shopping Tip #2: Be Polite

Always remember to be polite. The holidays are extremely busy and store employees are working overtime, so be patient as you wait for assistance.

Chirstmas Shopping Tip #3: Layaway

If you have a big list, but not quite a budget to match, consider a layaway. Many stores offer a convenient layaway plan, which would allow you to make payments up until Christmas. It saves you from having to charge up credit card bills or spend a lot of pocket money all at once, so consider a layaway if you have a big shopping list.

Christmas Shopping Tip #4: Shop Online

If you do decide to shop on the information superhighway this year, it will save you a lot of time standing in line at the mall. You can literally shop worldwide with the click of a button. Browse photos, compare prices, read customer reviews and see a huge variety of products without having to leave home. Best of all, in some cases, you won't even have to pay sales tax on internet orders. Some stores offer free shipping, quantity discounts and all kids of other incentives to lure you into their site. In addition, several televised shopping networks have websites in which they offer an easy payment program on select items. This means that you make one payment, using a credit/debit card, and the product ships out to you immediately. The remaining payments are billed to your credit card, until the item is paid in full, for the specified number of months.

Christmas Shopping Tip #5: Place Your Catalog Orders Early

If you're shopping from a catalog this year, be sure to place the order early. The most popular items sell out first, so get your order placed and on its way as soon as possible. There's no need to wait for a catalog to arrive in the mail because you can log on to the internet and find many catalog companies online with product photos, descriptions, size charts and special 'internet only' sale prices.

Christmas Shopping Tip #6: Buy in Bulk

If you have a lot of people to buy for, and aren't exactly certain of their taste, consider buying in bulk. You can purchase a nice package of scented candles, divide them up into multiple gifts and present them with a beautiful bow wrapped around the glass jar. These types of gifts are ideal if you have teachers, doctors, co-workers or other special people that you want to wish a Merry Chirstmas. Another terrific idea is to purchase small Christmas tins and several bags of assorted miniature candies. Divide the candies up into each tin and present them with a beautiful bow on top. These are ideal gifts because they are thoughtful, but also budget conscious. You can purchase a pre-designed tin similar to the one described, but you will get a much better deal if you make your own. As an added bonus, you get to decide which candy to include, which isn't always the case with pre-packaged gifts.

Happy shopping!

About the author: For more great Christmas related articles and resources check out http://www.christmashub.com




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Christmas Toy Shopping Online - 10 Reasons

By: Paul Harvey, Mon Nov 21st, 2005

With the Christmas season approaching, here are 10 reasons to do your toy shopping online.

1. Child free. Trying to shop for the Christmas presents with your children in tow does not really work. Why not shop on the Internet when they are in bed or busy with something else?

2. Crowd free. Avoid the hustle and bustle of the High Street, trying to get a pushchair around a cramped and busy shop.

3. 24/7 shopping. The Internet is open for shopping at all hours. With the exception of a couple of large supermarkets, why tie yourself to when your local toy shops are open?

4. Range of toys available. You can find pretty much every toy available on the Internet. It's a great way to find unusual and different ideas when you get stuck in the rut of buying the same type of present year after year - after all, our niche is wooden toys (www.in2play.co.uk) and we stock some very hard to find items. A surefire way of getting away from the cloned High Streets and malls we live with today.

5. Time saving. The children are not with you - and do not know what you have got them. You are not fighting off the crowds of other shoppers. You can fit your shopping into a time that is convenient for your. No finding the last parking space in town. Get the toy shopping out of the way and when you do go to the High Street, you can relax and shop for fun.

6. No shopping bags. Five full shopping bags hanging off the pushchair, the car parked at the top of a multistory carpark a mile away and the busy shopping center to negotiate. Shop online and juggling the shopping bags is history (as is keeping out the little prying hands and eyes).

7. Home or work delivery. The majority of online stores will happily deliver to your workplace or home. If you want the toys quickly, many stores will offer a courier option. While most stores will charge a postage and packing fee, just think how much you have saved on car parking, petrol and time - and if you spend enough, the store will probably throw in free postage.

8. Range of payment options. On the Internet you can pay easily by card. Many stores will accept payment by cheque or postal order. Then there are also the online payment options such as PayPal. Don't forget that PayPal and many banks and credit card companies offer Internet fraud protection for online purchases.

9. Discounts. You may well get a good price on the Internet, but the trick to getting extra discounts is to sign up for mailing lists on websites that interest you. You will probably find that from time to time you will get extra offers, discounts and lower shipping costs.

10. Right to Cancel. In many countries you have extra rights when purchasing online. In Britain and the EU, you may cancel your order at any time during the first seven working days after delivery - for any reason at all.

Above all play safe when paying for your Christmas shopping. Check the page that asks for your payment details either has a padlock icon at the bottom or https:// before the web address. Check that you have 'real world' contact details for the shop. Do a quick search on the Internet for the store to see if anyone has reported unresolved problems.

Enjoy your Christmas shopping!

About the author: Paul Harvey is the owner of in2play wooden toys an online store in the UK. He is also a teacher of Humanities at secondary (high) level.



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