Offers Catalogs Added Online Exposure

Share this article: opened this week as a service hosting online versions of myriad catalogs that either are not e-commerce-enabled or are looking for incremental revenue.

The site has struck deals with nearly 275 catalogs, including Mrs. Beasley's, Fulton Street Gourmet, Paragon Gifts, Orvis, Paul Fredericks Clothing, Duncraft and Chiasso Furniture.

"What we'll do is act as an interface between the catalog merchants and the consumers," said Phillip Berlin, CEO of Inc., Irvine, CA. "Consumers will have the ability to shop multiple catalogs. The more they use the site on ever subsequent visits, the more it will become personalized."

In 1998, there were an estimated 17 million online catalog shoppers, and this will swell to 60 million by 2002, according to projections by Jupiter Communications, New York. Of about 11,000 consumer catalog companies, only 20 percent have a Web site -- not all ready for e-commerce, according to Nexgenix Inc.

Berlin said MyOnlyCatalog was created to address the logistics of order fulfillment and personalized consumer experience, transplanting what succeeded offline to the Internet.

Cost-conscious catalogers are a key focus for MyOnlyCatalog. Berlin said his company aims to help merchants save money by creating free online catalogs. Merchants can change these Web catalogs through their intranet to include new lines or to discontinue offerings.

While MyOnlyCatalog screens the shopper for creditworthiness, catalogers handle and fulfill all transactions. The consumer remains within the MyOnlyCatalog site while buying products across catalogs.

MyOnlyCatalog's primary revenue source is the transaction fee it levies on catalogers for each purchase made through its site. Besides hosting the catalogs, the site also handles customer service queries that are not product-specific.

Berlin said. MyOnlyCatalog will advertise the new service through TV, radio, print and direct marketing. A current promotion on the site offers visitors who give their name, phone number and e-mail address a chance to win a $2,500 shopping spree.

Direct marketing is a key element in the media mix. The site rents its participating catalogers' lists at a discount to tap their customers and drive traffic online.

And for catalogers that do not have a Web site, MyOnlyCatalog is partnering with them to mention the site's address in mail pieces and catalogs. Consumers are urged to go to the site if they want to buy from that catalog online.

"One of the benefits of participating with catalog merchants is they have some of the best lists in the world," Berlin said.
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