Winchester Shoots for More Retail Traffic

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Winchester Ammunition is expected this week to launch a redesigned Web site at www.winchester.com aimed at building a database to drive traffic to local retailers.


The company is banking on site-development firm NetResponse's contention that online leads qualified correctly convert at a higher rate and result in higher average order sizes than many of their off-line counterparts.


Visitors to www.winchester.com will be asked to register their home addresses, e-mail addresses, demographics and information on the type of hunting or shooting they do. Winchester then will provide technical information on types of ammunition, reloading information and directions to the closest local retailer of the specified products.


According to Judy Eberhart, Winchester's manager of dealer services, the ammunition manufacturer's customers already have shown a propensity to download information from the Internet. Last year, Winchester, East Alton, IL, posted a 50-page reloading manual and 32,000 people downloaded it in the first month, Eberhart said. "Our customers tend to be a very technical group."


Winchester also plans to deliver e-mail newsletters featuring new-product announcements and other relationship-enhancing communications such as weather reports for hunters.


According to Tom Feegel, managing director at NetResponse, Arlington, VA, Winchester's database-driven offers delivered online should result in high-dollar, low-maintenance retail customers.


"We're not just collecting e-mail addresses here," he said. "We're matching user information with product information and regional-event information … to arm people with as much of a shopping list as possible when they show up at the store," Feegel said. "We want them to use the site as a method of compensating for the fact that people in the stores today don't always know the comparative features and benefits of all the products that they're representing."


Feegel said he expects 20 percent to 25 percent of Winchester's online visitors (who reportedly are in the 200,000-per-month range) to register at the site.


Winchester's online strategy is similar to that of another NetResponse client, upscale auto-care products merchant Meguiar's Inc., Irvine, CA. Like Winchester, Meguiar's main sales outlet is retail. Meguiar's launched a Paint Care Prescription program at www meguiars.com in 1996 in which visitors fill out questionnaires for product recommendations on caring for the finish on their cars. NetResponse said Meguiar's has since built a database of 1 million car buffs whose average orders, according to Meguiar's, are 50 percent higher than Paint Care Prescription customers from other channels.

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