FlipSeek.com catalogs online catalogs

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Nothing slices and dices information like the Internet. Take, for example, the Web site FlipSeek.com, which is a directory of online catalogs.

The site unites information already available to consumers via mail -- if they're willing to wait for mail delivery -- and on a retailer's Web site, if they can find the online catalog. By going to FlipSeek.com, consumers can browse 170 online catalogs in one location, possibly finding ones they've never heard of. They also can search by product to get a list comparing which catalogs offer the best prices on items such as cashmere sweaters.

"There's no real hub or directory for these online catalogs, and a lot of consumers don't know they exist," Adam Marino, founder and owner of FlipSeek.com, said about why he started the site. "Being able to jump on the Internet and see the latest issue is a nice feature."

Mr. Marino was a catalog industry employee for three years, where he noticed that online catalogs are not only a trend, but they get "a pretty decent response" from consumers, he said. Seeing a need for some way to organize all these electronic catalogs in one place, Mr. Marino launched FlipSeek.com in January from a home office in Lyndhurst, OH.

He searches retailers' Web sites himself, looking for online catalogs, then posts the information on FlipSeek.com. No referral percentage is received, nor is permission obtained.

"I'm not pulling anybody's catalogs into my site," he said. "I'm directing people to these sites, pushing traffic and helping these companies."

FlipSeek.com's home page has a drop-down link listing all 170 catalogs alphabetically for consumers who know exactly which one they're interested in. More catalogs are added weekly. Once they click on a catalog, consumers are taken to a page with a summary of that catalog and a link to it. Catalogs also are broken down by category.

"Some people come to the site not having a particular catalog in mind," Mr. Marino said.

Clothing is the biggest category, covering about 40 percent of the titles. Home and housewares is second. The majority of the site's traffic is interested in these two categories as well. High-end and men's catalogs are two categories Mr. Marino recently added.

"They are on the upswing in terms of interest from my traffic," he said.

Mr. Marino recently launched a service on the site using Google Custom Search Engine that lets him customize the site search function so that it searches only specified sites. He customized FlipSeek.com's search to look through product-comparison sites, product-review sites and the list of other online catalogs.

"I noticed people were clicking through the catalogs and not buying right away," Mr. Marino said about why he created this function, explaining that consumers today find a product and then want to find who else sells it. "I wanted to make it real easy to search within my site without leaving my site."

By Christmas, he hopes to start adding content such as articles about fashion trends, products in the home and on specific catalogs.

Mr. Marino drives the majority of the traffic to his site through a Google AdWords campaign. While traffic was flat during the summer, it started to grow in September, he said. The site averaged 200 to 300 visitors per day in August, 400 per day in September, over 1,000 daily in October and, so far, in November, the average has been 1,300 per day. And Mr. Marino hopes to break 2,000 visitors per day during the height of the holiday season.

"With Christmas you never really know what's going to happen," he said.

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