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Buying Game

Shoppers hit the superhighway.

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This story appears in the May 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

E-commerce has arrived--a fact profitably demonstrated in last December's online rush of holiday shoppers. AOL reported its electronic mall logged $150 million in sales last December alone.

Just what are consumers buying online? Computers, of course. Techno-gadgetry/software is the Web's largest category. But softer goods are also selling. AOL, for instance, claims brisk sales of food, books and flowers. One big lesson learned at the AOL mall is that most sales occur between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m., hours when brick-and-mortar stores are closed. Another lesson: Consumers are motivated to buy with limited-time, special price offers (discounts that expire in 24 hours, for example).

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