ValueVision Offers E-Fulfillment Service

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ValueVision International Inc., parent company for the home shopping network ValueVision, entered the e-fulfillment sector last week after signing a deal with Ralph Lauren Media, Atlanta.


ValueVision previously handled fulfillment only for its home shopping orders through its warehouses and customer service centers located near its company headquarters in Minneapolis. Now ValueVision will handle all warehouse and customer service duties for Ralph Lauren's upcoming fashion retail site polo.com, which is expected to launch this fall.


To meet the order demands for polo.com, ValueVision has built a fulfillment center in Bowling Green, KY. ValueVision's call center in Minneapolis will handle customer service.


ValueVision spokesman Anthony Giombetti said his firm is undecided if the new center will be used to lure additional fulfillment clients. Giombetti said the growth of Internet commerce drew ValueVision into the e-fulfillment market.


"We were already doing it for ourselves, so we thought, 'Hey, why don't we offer this to other people?,'" he said. "Heck, we handled $275 million of orders for ourselves last year."


Giombetti said his firm expected to handle more than $40 million worth of orders during polo.com's first year in business. Financial terms of the agreement were not released. Last February, however, Ralph Lauren and ValueVision entered into an alliance with TV network NBC and NBC Internet to form Ralph Lauren Media, a company that promotes Ralph Lauren products through Internet, broadcast, cable and print ads.


Giombetti said that there was potential for additional cross-marketing deals for Ralph Lauren and ValueVision, although none were in the works. ValueVision is preparing to change its name to SnapTV at about the same time as polo.com's launch this fall.


ValueVision recently reported its seventh consecutive profitable quarter, although such numbers seemingly contrast to the home shopping network giant's selling off of a handful of its direct marketing and catalog subsidiaries last year.


The divestment phase is largely over, according to Giombetti, who pointed out the new fulfillment service as evidence. He said chairman/CEO Gene McCaffery appointed in March 1998, had been directing ValueVision back to its traditional sector of direct television marketing, but now the company was ready to expand into other areas.


"We were simply trimming some corporate fat last year," Giombetti said.
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