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Best Holiday Shopping Sites and Apps for 2010

Cyber Monday crossed the $1 billion threshold this year. More shopping is happening online on Thanksgiving Day as well; in addition, 3.9% of ecommerce came from smartphone apps.

The online shopping landscape is still growing fast, but it's also shifting around as it matures. Now, Internet Marketers aren't the only ones who watch these numbers and trends. Everybody is watching now.

These days, online holiday shopping is followed like the Oscars or the Super Bowl. It's a global pastime.

So, who's got the coolest examples of online commerce this year? Sr. Editor Janet Roberts provides us with the best and brightest examples below.

Take it awaaaay, JR ...

1. Dealery

If you're sold on group-couponing services like Groupon, LivingSocial and BuyWithMe, this is your virtual shopping mall. Dealery aggregates all the deals available from participating services in a specific metro area (mainly bigger cities like New York, Chicago, Atlanta and San Francisco).

Dealery includes all the pertinent details, most importantly how long the sale has to run, for both the one-day deals and older offers that are still in effect. So, if your phone died and you missed the Groupon deal on salsa dance lessons or a restaurant voucher, you still might be able to get in on it via Dealery.

You might need to be a registered user of the service offering the deal, but anyone can go to Dealery and scroll through the deals for that day. Sign up for daily emails, too, if you don't want to race to this site every day.

2. My TargetWeekly

Love holiday shopping but hate the crowds in the stores or pages of irrelevant search results? Target has a Facebook app for you: My TargetWeekly, which can help you save time and money by delivering laser-targeted offers inside Target's Facebook Page.

Spend a few minutes telling the app which categories you're interested in and which offers you like or don't like. The app will serve up in-store special offers based on your choices and your location (based on your IP address).

You can't buy the products through the app, but because it uses your location, you can be more certain you'll find them in your local Target store. Extra benefit: The more you tell My TargetWeekly about your preferences, the more relevant the offers become.

3. IBM Coremetrics Holiday Alerts

Subscribers to IBM Coremetrics' Holiday Alerts were among the first in 2010 to learn that Black Friday sales were up by double digits and Cyber Monday online retail sales hit $1 billion. You, too, can get the inside scoop from leading news organizations all through the holiday shopping season by subscribing to Coremetrics' complimentary email service.

The data, drawn from Coremetrics' own research, provides up-to-date performance benchmarks and offers directions for possible shifts in retail strategies as the crucial month of December rolls on.

For example, Coremetrics found more shoppers are mounting "surgical strikes" on websites. Shoppers viewed 18 percent fewer products on websites and moved on faster if they didn't find what they wanted. Does your website facilitate these shoppers?

Expect to receive at least one report each business day with a late-afternoon extra when the news warrants.

4. FindtheBest

Kindle vs. Nook? Beaujolais vs. Burgundy? Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders? If you can't decide which one would make a better gift, run your options through this research engine and compare each product side by side.

Led by former DoubleClick head honcho Kevin O'Connor, FindTheBest is a hyper-focused comparison engine that uses product spec pages, reviewer opinions and other research applications to compile detailed analyses on everything from business schools to car safety rates.

FindTheBest will work best for shoppers who have to buy high-tech gifts such as video games and consoles, computers or smartphones. Choose from one of 9 categories, and then find the item you want to compare or type in your product if it's not listed. FindTheBest will search out all the data it can find on each item and serve it up on a single page so you can compare apples to apples at a glance.

You can't buy on this site, but what you learn will make it easier to hunt down your preferred product in stores or on other shopping sites.

5. Shopkick

If you're willing to give up a little choice in the stores you shop at in exchange for special offers and reward points, Shopkick might help you stretch your holiday budget.

Shopkick, a location-based shopping app available for iPhone and Android systems (at time of writing), points you toward partner stores in your vicinity that have exclusive deals and reward points called "Kickbucks."

Although our test drives found Shopkick's value prop – "Rewards Simply for Walking into Stores" – wasn't always that simple, shoppers who are willing to spend time checking out Shopkick's offers might save more than those who wander in with old-fashioned shopping lists.

"Kickbucks" are redeemable for goods such as gift cards, restaurant vouchers and merchandise from partner stores including Best Buy, Target and Macy's.

6. Grouponicus

This holiday spin-off of the Groupon social-coupon service provider focuses exclusively on holiday-themed "experience" gifts available for at least 50 percent off in selected U.S. cities where Groupon offers deals.

The URL for this review points to the home site in Chicago in order to let you preview what's on offer. Similar deals on merchandise, restaurants, spa visits, bookstores, wine shops and other local businesses are also available in larger metro areas such as Austin, St. Louis and Boston.

Unlike Groupon's regular deals, you don't need to get your friends and family involved in order to meet a minimum-purchaser threshold, but the deals often are available for only a few days so shop fast.

7. Jumo

Launching at the height of the charitable-giving season, Jumo aims to apply Facebook-style social-networking savvy to the quest for identifying and supporting social services.

Jumo is the brainchild of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. He says the site is designed not just to collect donations but also to use wall posts, status updates and networking to help build continuing relations between the charities and their donors.

Jumo users create a simple account similar to a Facebook profile and then choose the charities they want to track. (Donations are optional but can be posted on your Jumo wall if you want.). Jumo doesn't vet the charities that nominate themselves for your consideration except to require that they certify their IRS tax-exempt status, also known as a 501(c)(3) status.