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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 lastDecember's online rush of holiday shoppers. AOL reported itselectronic mall logged $150 million in sales last Decemberalone.

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

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