Vermont Teddy Bear Bullish On Web

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Stuffed bear direct marketer The Vermont Teddy Bear Co., Shelburne, VT, reported that the week before Valentine's Day was its best week ever for online sales, including a one-day high of 1,065 bears sold on the company's site at www.vtbear.com.


According to Hillary Sulcov, Internet marketing manager, Vermont Teddy Bear's previous best since the company began online selling in March was 150 bears sold in a day.


Sulcov said Vermont Teddy Bear's online average order is about $85, compared with a telephone and catalog average order of $80. "People are not as price-resistant online as they are offline, and I think a lot of it has to do with the newness of it," said Sulcov, adding that online sales are apparently not eating into other channels.


"We are going to sink more money into the Internet based on the success of this last holiday," she said, though she wouldn't say how much. Sulcov added that any added focus on Web marketing would have nothing to do with recent fiscal troubles the company has reported.


In November, Vermont Teddy Bear reported a loss of $399,000, or 8 cents per share, for the first quarter ending Sept. 30. In January, Vermont Teddy Bear closed its New York City retail store citing building structural concerns and slower-than-anticipated growth.


Sulcov said the most effective advertising vehicle for driving Web traffic so far has been a $790,000 national radio campaign begun in anticipation of Valentine's Day. "I can tell when a California radio ad has gone off because I get a spike in California orders," said Sulcov.


She added that Vermont Teddy Bear's online ordering tends to peak during business hours, indicating that people are shopping online from work.


Sulcov said Vermont Teddy Bear also advertised for Valentine's Day on posters and rail-car cards in New York and tagged them with the company Web address. Sulcov said Vermont Teddy Bear has tested search-engine advertising and received a very negative response from it


She said New York City is Vermont Teddy Bear's biggest market with Boston running a close second.

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