Flooz.com Creating Separate Sub-Site for Corporations

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Finding that nearly 60 percent of its total sales are from corporate clients, Flooz.com Inc. will create a separate sub-site for businesses keen to send Flooz, an online gift currency delivered by e-mail.

The decision to debut Flooz.com/business in mid-March comes after the year-old New York company realized that its gift currency was increasingly being used as a corporate direct marketing tool. Hence, the decision to put up walls between the consumer and corporate areas.

"We're creating a completely different site, completely different messaging that is all targeted to what we've heard from corporate clients over the last six months," said Robert Levitan, CEO of Flooz.com.

The arrival in December of big clients like Bell Atlantic, Eastman Kodak Co., and Cisco Systems hastened the process. These companies join around 75 Flooz.com corporate clients who give Flooz currency to employees, business partners and customers.

To sign up, corporate customers have to open accounts with Flooz.com. These accounts function like debit cards and require cash to be deposited up-front. The account gets debited each time Flooz is gifted.

It's not just currency gifts alone. Corporations can also send branded electronic greeting cards to the recipient. These cards can be personalized to convey a range of messages.

While the site as it stands today is not tailored to corporate use, the new site is "a software package that our corporate clients can access from any computer, any time, and send corporate gifts," Levitan said.

Alison Moore, Flooz.com's director of marketing, said the business site will allow corporate clients to glean complete transactional records of their account. Password protected, it will offer details like who was sent Flooz, when and how much. The aim is to eliminate administrative costs.

A direct marketing campaign will herald the Flooz.com development. Ads will be placed in sales, incentives and business publications. Marketing decision-makers in Fortune 500 will be sent promotional CD-ROMs as alerts. E-mails to marketing and human resources executives will follow.

"This is a site that we're actually building both for our prospective and current clients," Moore said.

Flooz can be spent at more than 70 online retailers, including Toysrus.com, Godiva.com, Gymboree.com, towerrecords.com and Starbucks.com. The Flooz icon is displayed at the online retailer's checkout along with other payment options. Flooz.com gets a commission each time Flooz is paid for purchases.

Flooz.com differs from companies like giftcertificates.com, giftpoint.com and 800giftcertificate.com, all of which sell other retailers' gift certificates.

And Flooz.com's business is not to be confused with Beenz, Netcentives, MyPoints.com and Freeride.com. These companies - all Flooz.com partners - reward consumers with loyalty points for online behavior. These points can be converted into Flooz money for online shopping.

To date, about 450,000 people have sent or received Flooz.

Levitan admits that the company is exploring possibilities of launching an offline service, which would put Flooz currency in direct competition with products like American Express gift checks. But there is no date for that expansion.

For the moment, the focus is on peddling Flooz as a direct marketing tool that is more convenient than traditional, paper-based methods of reward and appreciation.

"The whole reason that corporations have embraced our products is that it's easier to fulfill," Levitan said. "Corporations don't want to spend time sourcing direct marketing product, creating and improving it, shipping it and then tracking it. With our electronic service, they can send and track it, and the cost savings are substantial."

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