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New Service Takes the Work Out of Holiday Shopping

(ARA) – The countdown to the holidays is on and we all have a lot of shopping to do. Johnny wants a new videogame system, and his sister Sarah says she’s going to be devastated if she doesn’t get a pair of Kenneth Cole boots. Your parents have needed a digital camera for a while now and you’ve vowed to find a good one for them.

Holiday shopping can be a stressful time for frazzled consumers with little or no time to shop as they face the daunting task of finding — and purchasing — the perfect gift. Sure, buying online is a timesaver, but it can also further complicate the matter. After making the purchase, you also have to deal with shipping charges, accuracy issues, timeliness and potentially discovering that the perfect gift is on backorder until 2008. So what’s a person to do?

Now there’s an option available that offers the best of both worlds. NearbyNow is a new online service that empowers shoppers by letting them check store inventory in 10 minutes or less at shopping malls in more than 130 cities from the Internet or mobile phone, and even reserve products for pick up before heading out the door.

The service is the brainchild of Scott Dunlap, from Los Altos, Calif., who says he developed the product search for "quite selfish" reasons. “One afternoon, while stuck in the mall as my wife tried to find a pair of boots, I realized I could develop a program that would make these trips more efficient,” says the founder of NearbyNow, Inc.  

Here’s how the service works: Consumers log on to from their home computer, find their local mall and select the "Product Search" button to navigate through the process. If they want to buy Kenneth Cole boots, for example, they type “Kenneth Cole boots” in the search box, and all retailers in the mall who has the shoes in stock will be listed. A customer can then click on a particular shoe, see the details, use the ‘check availability’ feature and "reserve" the product on-line for pickup at the mall. NearbyNow contacts the store, reserves the product, and sends the customer a confirming e-mail. Shoppers can also send an SMS text message to NEARBY (632729) to get connected to the service at their local mall.

Gretchen Mathews of Portola Valley, Calif., found the site by chance one day and has already used it a couple of times to reserve an item online. She says it’ll be a real time saver this holiday season. “I’m a busy person and my shopping strategy has always been to preview and reserve items online before heading to the store. I used to have to log on to several different store Web sites to do that, but now I can search the whole mall from one place. It’s a fabulous tool,” she says.

“Shoppers call our service ‘Google for malls’ because they can search every brand, product, and sale at the mall,” says Dunlap. “It is the most stress-free way to shop your local mall. It’s what holiday shopping should be all about — convenience.”

If you agree, be sure to log on to before heading out the door.

Courtesy of ARAcontent