Toying With the Market's Good Sense

Cramer's tired of lousy bricks-and-mortar outfits getting on the Web and seeing their shares surge.
Author:
Publish date:

Oh, I get the picture. You are a sloppy retailer with stores that people dislike going into, with prices that are just OK and a tired format. I guess that means you are going to be a terrific e-tailer. I mean, isn't that the secret behind the success of all of the other great Web retailers -- crummy bricks-and-mortar execution?

Boy, am I getting sick of so-so retailers boosting their stocks by 25% by announcing a Web strategy. Today it is

Toys R Us

(TOY)

. Call me a skeptic, but there is more to running one of these Web businesses than you think.

The first thing you have to have is a sponsor that doesn't get hurt by what you are doing online. Toys R Us lives off of impulse buys once you are in the store. The Net kills that business.

The second thing you need is rigorous attention to detail; you can't make any mistakes. You must make the consumer love you for your ease and for your accessibility. Why should I think Toys R Us, which has about the worst touch I know of short of

Party City

(PCTYE)

, be acclaimed as a fine touch e-tailer?

Finally, you need to be first. I know that

eToys

does no more business than two Toys R Us stores -- thanks to an interview with Toys R Us on

CNBC

-- but I say, so what? How many books did

Amazon

(AMZN) - Get Report

sell in 1995? One thing we know about the Net is this first-mover thing is more important than just about anything, save the 40-yard dash.

Does that mean Toys R Us shouldn't go up?? Of course not. Heck,

Global Marine

(GLM)

would go up if it announced a Web site in this market.

But it does mean that the sustainability of the move may be no more than we saw in

Trans World Music

(TWMC) - Get Report

or

Borders

(BGP)

-- and I like going to their stores!

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund had no positions in the stocks mentioned, although holdings can change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at

letters@thestreet.com.