PC Connection Sees 33% Sales Growth

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An aggressive telemarketing effort and some Web site enhancements helped PC Connection Inc., Merrimack, NH, improve its total sales by about 33 percent in 1998, to $732 million vs. $551 million in 1997.

The direct marketer of brand-name computers and periphery, which targets small and mid-sized businesses through catalogs, telemarketing and the Internet, doubled its staff of outbound callers during 1998, ending the year with 200 account managers. The company has another 150 representatives to handle inbound calls.

More than half of the company's 1998 sales, $391 million, were generated through telemarketing, the company reported, vs. the $257 million the company generated through telemarketing in the preceding year. In the fourth quarter, sales generated through telemarketing totaled $113 million, or slightly more than half of PC Connection's net fourth quarter sales of $220 million. In the year-ago fourth quarter, telemarketing generated $83 million in sales for the company.

"The company's rapidly expanding outbound account managers generated 51 percent of our total sales," said Patricia Gallup, chairwoman and chief executive, adding that Internet sales gained momentum during the fourth quarter and "exceeded expectations. Sales sourced over the Internet now account for more than 10 percent of the company's total net sales," she said.

Sales processed directly through the company's Web site, located at www.pcconnection.com, totaled $29.1 million for the year, more than five times the $5.2 million tallied in the preceding year. During the fourth quarter, unassisted sales through the Web site were $10.6 million, vs. $3.5 million in the year-ago fourth quarter.

The company said that sales generated from its Web site, including both orders processed online and phone orders generated by customer calls to a toll-free number posted at the site, increased to $62.7 million for the year, up from $19 million in 1997. Total sales sourced through the Internet in the fourth-quarter totaled $23 million vs. $8.1 million in the fourth quarter of 1997.

During the final quarter, the company revamped its Web site, boosting its technical capability and enabling it to speed transaction times. The company is enhancing its Web site to allow users to compare up to five different computer models simultaneously on screen.

"We're using technology on the Web to provide people with research tools," said PC Connections spokeswoman Tracey Turner.

The company's Web site is helping expose PC Connection to new customers, she said. About 40 percent to 50 percent of the orders generated through the Web site have been from new customers.

PC Connections also launched an online auction component at its site and announced a joint-marketing effort with Compaq Computer Corp., Houston.

The company, which carries more than 25,000 brand-name computer products, mails about 2 million catalogs per month.

"We view all of these as different prongs of our strategy working synergistically together," Turner said.

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