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Cool Pick Hotel

Shopping at the Electronic Mall

Cool Pick Hotel Written by Wesley Tatters

The long held dream of shopping from home is rapidly becoming a popular part of Internet, and more specifically, World Wide Web life. But with literally thousands of new online stores appearing each week, how do people keep track of where they all are?

Enter the online shopping mall. Like the giant shopping malls that now exist down the street from just about everybody, the Internet's equivalent - the online mall - is rapidly gaining popularity as the best way to start your online shopping explorations.

Like a regular shopping mall, online malls often house hundreds of different stores selling a wide variety of products and services. In addition, many also offer services like centralized billing and access to secure transaction handling. It should be noted that these last two services are rapidly becoming an important criterion for many online shoppers, with concerns about confidentially and the credibility of online store fronts being questioned by the Internet in general.

In this edition of Cool Pick Hotel, we will take a look at some of the largest and most popular Internet malls currently in operation.


The Internet Shopping Network - http://www2.internet.net/

The popular cable television "Home Shopping Network" recently made the move onto the Internet in a big way with the launch of the Internet Shopping Network (ISN), and like its cable based predecessor, ISN aims to provide access to the best products at the cheapest prices. As this article goes to press the range of products available online has already reached impressive proportions. Naturally, computer hardware and software accounts for a good deal of the products currently on offer, but you will also find kitchenware, flowers, and cameras for sale as well - just to mention a few of the more popular product categories.

To purchase products you will first need to register and obtain a ISN account number, but once this is done, you can place orders online simply by clicking the BUY button. All your account and billing details are maintained from visit to visit.


The Netscape Galleria - http://www.netscape.com/escapes/galleria.html

If you're looking for a directory of Web sites that support secure data transactions, you need go no further than the Netscape Galleria. To be listed in the Galleria, Web sites need to run either a Netscape Communications Server or a Netscape Commerce Server. And more importantly, those sites running a Commerce Server need to provide mechanisms for secure data transactions.

The Galleria lists it's sites in alphabetical order and provides access to a wide cross section of the online stores and services now available on the World Wide Web.

The Internet Mall - http://www.internet-mall.com/

Unlike the Galleria which only lists Netscape Server sites, the Internet Mall is open to all electronic store fronts and online shops. In fact, just about anyone who operates an online ordering system can request the inclusion of their site at the Internet Mall by filling out the application form at http://www.internet-mall.com/howto.htm.

The only limit the Internet Mall places on the types of businesses that can list their sites is that they cannot be a part of any multi-level marketing schemes, their products are not available through dealerships, the pages can't offer franchise opportunities, Web publishing or design services, Marketing services or be for hotels, restaurants, or a non-business site. Basically each Web site must sell a product of some sort.

iMall - http://www.imall.com/

iMall is one of the more popular new Internet malls which now offer secure transaction processing. To make use of the secure transaction facility you will need to obtain a copy of Netscape Navigator, and more significantly, since iMall also makes extensive use of Netscape's new Frames technology, you will need to obtain a copy of Navigator 2.0. For those of you who have not encounter frames yet, this technology makes navigating your way around iMall a very enjoyable process.

iMall features products by a number of big names including Victoria's Secret, Bloomingdales and Chadwicks, just to mention a few.

ICentral ShopSite - http://www.shopsite.com/

Again, this mall also offers secure transaction processing, but in addition, it also makes using of a feature called Cookies which allows your billing details to be remembered from session to session.

What this means, is that once you enter you name and address or other billing details, they will automatically be recalled whenever you visit a store at ICentral, removing the need for you to have to re-enter this most basic information. But unlike some online malls which retain this information on their host computers, through the use of cookies, all of the details are actually stored in a special file on your local computer. The advantages of doing this are twofold. Firstly, for the service provider there is a reduced need for online storage space, and secondly, for the user there is one less online database holding their personal information.

Digicash (cybershops) - http://www.digicash.com/shops/cybershop.html

And now for something completely different. Instead of spending your hard earned greenbacks why not take a look at an online alternative - digicash or cyberbucks.

In addition to accepting the good old American dollar, all of the shops listed on the cybershop mall also accept "ecash" < http://www.digicash.com/ecash/ecash-home.html >. This new form of electronic cash represents the next step in online shopping. To learn more about ecash and the other new technologies being developned by DigiCash visit their home page at http://www.digicash.com/

Yahoo - Shopping Centers - http://www.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Companies/Shopping_Centers/

Naturally, with the rapid growth in popularity of the Web as the location for electronic storefronts, the few sites listed here represent only a small cross section of what is currently available. When it comes to a complete list of online shopping malls, without a doubt, the best place to look is the extensive directory maintained by Yahoo. Like all of the many other categories provided by Yahoo, the Shopping_Centers list is just about as comprehensive as they come.

Next Up . . .

Cool Pick Hotel is looking for your input. While we spend many hours each week combing the World Wide Web looking for cool sites, with thousands of new pages being added each day, there may be sites that you may have encountered which deserve our attention.

If you have located such a site, or maybe have an idea for a Cool Pick Hotel feature topic, why not drop me a line at wtatters@world.net. To make sure that you message catches my attention, place the worlds COOL PICK HOTEL in the subject.

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