Faced with the task of fulfilling wish lists from spouses to young children, brothers to business associates, several e-commerce CEOs contacted by CNET News.com said they are increasing the amount of purchases they make online--partly to save time but also to do some intelligence gathering at rival Web sites.
"I did some shopping online last year, but this year I'm getting about half my holiday gifts online and the other half at stores," said Michael Beindorff, CEO of online pharmacy PlanetRx.
Beindorff is primarily using his mouse to purchase wine, flowers, music and books.
"I bought a year's worth of fresh flowers for my fiancee. They'll be sent every week for a year from 1-800-Flowers.com," he said.
But he noted he still makes time to wander through the stores at Christmas time, despite the crowds. "I still enjoy getting out and mixing it up with the crowds. I enjoy the hustle and bustle of Christmas."
Not everyone shares that view, however. Mark Goldstein, CEO of Kmart's BlueLight.com, and Peter Neupert, CEO of Drugstore.com, have an aversion to crowds and prefer virtual shopping. Both executives said 100 percent of their holiday purchases were made online.
"I upped the amount of time from about 50 percent last year," Goldstein said. "It lets me do two things at once: I can gather competitive intelligence and get my Christmas shopping done."
Goldstein is particularly impressed by shopping bots, which can search hundreds of retail sites looking for a specific item.
"When you look for unique, one-of-a-kind products, use the search bots and type in your dreams. Come up with the most crazy, outlandish things and you'll be surprised at what you'll find at some of these mom-and-pop sites," he said.
Take Pashmina, for example.
No, its not an animal, mineral or vegetable.
"I had no idea where to start looking, but my sister wanted it for Christmas. It's a special type of cashmere scarf," Goldstein said. "I used Google and found it at Bluefly. They had a whole section on it."
And then there were the specialty food gifts for his mother at NapaStyle, and "Banana Republic-meets-Zen-style" apparel for his brother from ZoZa.
"I had a brother who had to be completely re-wardrobed. He had a lot of granola still stuck in his jeans from high school," joked Goldstein.
Neupert, meanwhile, also got his family into the act. He helped one of his daughters register a wish list on Amazon.com.
"That makes it easier for me and gets her the things she wants," said Neupert, who also used his PC to purchase a Dell computer for his son and clothes for his 7-year-old daughter at Talbots.