Beckett Hopes Online Boom Is in the Cards

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Beckett Publications, a leading publisher of monthly sports collectibles magazines, plans to expand the e-commerce offerings on its site by setting up cyberstores for some of the 4,000 collectors' shops that distribute its seven magazines.


The company launched a marketplace section on Beckett.com last month with cyberstores for 25 collectors' shops, and it plans to have 100 cyberstores by November.


Many smaller card stores previously had no way of establishing themselves on the Web. "Even if all [of the mom-and-pop stores] did put up Web sites, how are they going to be found? They are just needles in the cyberspace haystack," said Rob Veres, owner of Burbank Sports Cards, Burbank, CA.


Now they have the chance to be exposed to Beckett.com's database of 400,000 registered users. "The marketing they're doing is tremendous. They have resources to market in ways I could never dream of," said Veres.


During the marketplace's first week, the site offered the 300,000 members of its opt-in e-mail marketing database a free gift with purchase. Other weekly offers are being sent to this base of collectors to promote the marketplace. Additionally, there are plans for contests and sweepstakes.


Offline, each page of the company's seven magazines mentions the site and it is featured in house ads. Beckett publications reach one million subscribers per month. Beckett Baseball Card Monthly is its flagship title.


Regardless of the opportunity, many collectors' shops aren't interested in the Internet, and a number that are don't have their inventory records stored on a computer, said Hugh Murphy, spokesman for Beckett.com, Dallas. "We have a great relationship with the card shops. The company is built on that, but not all of them are ready to put their inventory online," he said.


To preach the merits of e-commerce, the company will hold seminars at hobby shows throughout the first quarter of 2000.


Some of the shop owners have already gotten the message. "They're the industry's leading reference tool, they're reputable and visible. It's a big advantage to be on their site," said Veres. "It expands our presence on the Web dramatically as a small business."


Beckett.com's goal is to offer up to 2 million pieces of baseball, basketball, football and other collectibles in the marketplace section.
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