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Focus, focus, focus: Why Web retail is like a really cheesy mall

How micro sites like Terrariumsale and FreeShippingOn can make you rich.

When questionable economics makes for good business.

Years ago, for my wife's birthday, I bought her a terrarium for her orchids. You know where I got it? Because that's what showed up in Google. Now, is not a business unto itself. It's one of several front-ends to a catalog of goods sold by FineWebStores. I was reminded of this today when I got a pitch for, a site that helps you find items available for sale online that you can get without paying shipping fees. I wrote back to the person who sent me the pitch: "You're kidding. That's a whole business?" It's not, of course. But it's a great strategy.

The idea of shopping by shipping cost is dumb. (Better bet: use a shopping service like NexTag that computes total price for you including tax and shipping.) But that's not for me to judge. If people want to buy items based on shipping cost, and FreeShippingOn can get those eyeballs and those affiliate dollars, more power to the person who launched the service.

And that person is Jonathan Lieberman, president of Deallocker, and a man who runs focused sites for consumers, like TypoBuddy (for finding deals based on misspellings in eBay and Craigslist postings), the new (a front end to Lieberman's eBay sales of gift cards), and the "Secret Amazon Discount Finder" section of DealLocker. None of his sites is technically ground-breaking. And, like FreeShippingOn, some are based on the erroneous economic proposition that getting dollars off a retail price is more important than the actual out-of-pocket dollars the product costs you. But as I said, that's not the point. The point is that people look for very specific things online, and the businesses who know the mind of the consumer--and not necessarily what's right or sensible--are the ones that make the bucks.