Lots of stories about e-tailers having trouble filling this season's orders in time. (If you missed
excellent story here Thursday on life these days at
giant distribution center in Fernley, Nev., jump there right this minute and read it -- then click back here, of course.)
No matter how prepared e-tailers thought they were for an onslaught of buyers this Christmas season, the stories go, they still weren't prepared
, and orders have exceeded stock and labor resources -- even gift-wrapping resources!
All this is being played as a potential disaster in the press. But, I wonder, what if the opposite had happened?
Imagine the headlines then: E-Tailers Crumble as Anticipated Orders Evaporate. Giant Unsold Inventories Give the Lie to Online Retailers' Business Advantages. Web-Buying Boom Gone Bust? Etc.
Q&A with Jim Seymour on
I don't mean to diminish the disappointment of buyers whose orders are delayed. Christmas presents have to be there on, well, Christmas. But those who suggest that any bobbles in the handling of Web orders this Christmas season are a serious issue, reveal a fundamental misunderstanding -- and I think, not a little bias in favor of the bricks-and-mortar world.
Saying "Ya-ya-ya-ya-YAH-ya!" in print is never a graceful thing, though we see it often enough. As much as our friends in the dead-tree gang like to brag about how open they are to the new, they still love to trash it.
Me, I'll take an excess of e-tailing prosperity over bulging warehouses any day.
By the way, while admitting the uselessness of a sample of one, I have to tell you that my family's online-shopping experiences this Christmas have been almost unfailingly good. Orders from Amazon.com,
(incredible bedding and kids' clothes) and others have come through on schedule, delivered by the
U.S. Postal Service
United Parcel Service
Nothing ordered from those sites has arrived late so far, at least by the shippers' confirmed estimates of delivery dates. Then again, of course, it's still early.
The one letdown was my
order, a modest one that continues to dribble in a little at a time.
The big winner for me in terms of online retailers' service was
, newly merged with
. After using
, the shopping 'bot, to find the lowest price, I ordered it from Egghead. Not only did Egghead have the lowest price by a fair margin, but shopping was free.
Even better, it arrived at my door in exactly three days.
Did my Linux IPO recommendations this week do well enough for you?
To be sure, I dramatically underestimated just how well they'd do. I had a fair number of nasty-grams from
writing here that I thought
was an easy double and that
was an obvious triple.
Andover did a lot better than double, of course, and VA Linux set the record for IPO first-day performance, soaring 733% yesterday.
That said, I have to say that I think these two Linux company valuations are the scariest things I've seen in the market in a long time. Neither company has any possibility for earnings in any reasonable relationship to those first-day prices anytime in the foreseeable future.
Of course, lots of Net companies are carrying valuations right now far in excess of their apparent earning capabilities. But not on this scale. VA Linux isn't a $250 stock. And Andover is not a $77 stock.
If you enjoyed the roller-coaster ride up, consider a fast exit before
The Cyclone starts on that swoopy rush downward.
An amazing number of
readers have written during the last month to ask if I'm going to deliver on the promise I made earlier this year to write a column on what I think you ought to do, financially speaking, to get ready for possible Y2K problems.
Hey, I keep my word. Watch for that piece here next week. But be warned: Don't expect fireworks and a plan for fleeing Armageddon. I think Y2K is going to be OK, at least for most of us. Still...
Jim Seymour is president of Seymour Group, an information-strategies consulting firm working with corporate clients in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and a longtime columnist for PC Magazine. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. At time of publication, neither Seymour nor Seymour Group held positions in any securities mentioned in this column, although holdings can change at any time. Seymour does not write about companies that are current or recent consulting clients of Seymour Group. While Seymour cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites your feedback at