Shopping on the Net

Analysts have predicted that within the next few years, the value of Internet-based transactions will account for up to 10 percent of the world`s consumer sales. Companies are all extending their business strategies to "e-commerce." By the year 2000, over $300 billion dollars will be spent over the Internet. Nearly 20 percent of the online population (about 40 percent of all adult users) will make purchases online. Security concerns have been addressed and should not be an issue any longer.

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS

Analysts have predicted that within the next few years, the value of Internet-based transactions will account for up to 10 percent of the world`s consumer sales. Companies are all extending their business strategies to "e-commerce." By the year 2000, over $300 billion dollars will be spent over the Internet. Nearly 20 percent of the online population (about 40 percent of all adult users) will make purchases online. Security concerns have been addressed and should not be an issue any longer.

Shopping online can be a lot of fun. The Web-based auction sites can be a great way to pick up a needed item at a large discount. The "shopping search engines" are a convenient way to comparison-shop.

Let`s look at some of the Internet sites that can be visited when you are in the mood to spend some of your hard-earned money. You can go directly to most any company`s Web site and purchase its products.

I feel that a preferred way to shop is to explore the "shopping search engines." These sites will review all of the vendors out there and compare prices and services for you. You usually can find the same items listed at a large range of prices. All of these sites have separate departments to help with your search, such as apparel, books and stationery, computer hardware, computer software, music, movies and videos, electronics, food and drink, hobbies and collectibles, home and garden, sports and fitness, and more. A lot of shopping can be handled while you sit in front of your computer.

Biz-Rate: www.bizrate.com - This site is a very thorough and useful place to begin. It not only gives you the search capabilities of other shopping search engines, but goes a step further and rates merchants. It evaluates them in the following sub-categories: if the company has secure ordering, a shopping cart system, online order-tracking, customer-information privacy, gift-wrapping, live customer support, international shipping, product search, and information in multiple languages.

The next seven sites are general shopping search engines. They all do a very good job of locating merchandise for you to purchase. They all do a thorough job of price comparisons. Try any or all of them when you are browsing the Internet for a purchase.

Amazon.com:

www.amazon.com

Bottom Dollar:

www.bottomdollar .com

Buy.com:

www.buy.com

Compare.net:

www.compare.net

E-smarts:

www.esmarts.com

Pricescan:

www.pricescan.com

Public Eye:

www.thepubliceye.com

Web Market:

www.webmarket.com

Then there are the Internet auction sites. I am sure you have all heard about these. Items are listed online with a deadline date for bids. Some excellent bargains can be found.

E-bay:

www.pages.ebay.com

Sold-Buy-Us:

www.sold-buy-us.com

Place-A-Bid:

www.place-a-bid.com

Ubid:

www.ubid.com

For those who need a little help with your shopping searches in cyberspace, try one of the following three sites. These sites will do a search for you in real time after you type in a request:

My Simon:

www.mysimon.com

Wireless Dimension:

www.wireless dimension.com

Active Buyer`s Guide:

www.active buyersguide.com

I could fill this issue with listings of different sites to visit. Hopefully, the above URLs will give you a feel for what is out there in cyberspace. Happy shopping!

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, practices general dentistry in St. Louis. He also is the editor of St. Louis Dentistry Magazine and spokesperson and critical-issue-response-team chairperson for the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. He can be reached at jdteeth@inlink.com, or by phone at (314) 567-5612, or by fax at (314) 567-9047.

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