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*Catalog Overstocks Sold At Online Outlet Mall

CHICAGO — What to do with overstocks of merchandise is a dilemma every cataloger has faced. Mike Aronowitz knows this from 10 years of design and production work for catalogers and it only took a few drives past the Woodbury Commons Outlet in Orange County, NY, to convince him that the retail outlet center concept could be applied online.

Saleoutlet.com, New York, which launched May 1 and is being officially introduced at the 16th Annual Catalog Conference & Exhibition here, will display sale-priced overstocks from catalogers, aggregate demand for specific products and provide links to drive traffic to partner sites.

Visitors to Saleoutlet.com can search for merchandise by product category, price or specific vendor and buy from multiple vendors in the same session. They can make product requests and receive e-mail alerts when a specific item becomes available through a bargain registry. Shoppers also can submit a wish list of products, which Saleoutlet will aggregate and present as a group of ready buyers to catalogers.

“The biggest potential for this is the people waiting on the sidelines to buy,” said Aronowitz, Saleoutlet's president.

The Web site is a more profitable option for catalogers than producing a special catalog of overstocked items or selling to deep discount wholesalers for 10 cents on the dollar. Buying overstocks online also is preferable for consumers who do not want to endure the wait and uncertainty of an auction site, Aronowitz said.

Saleoutlet takes orders for merchandise on its site and passes them on to each individual cataloger for processing and fulfillment. Saleoutlet receives 10 percent of each order while the cataloger retains the buyer as a new customer. The company plans to display a cataloger's first 20 items free with a charge of $40 for each change. Catalogers also can opt for unlimited changes of merchandise for $4,200 per year.

The site will offer catalogers targeted e-mail campaigns to its opt-in database, provide page view and purchase reports and track real-time purchase behavior by comparing site activity to the contents of its product databases.

To recruit catalogers and shoppers, Saleoutlet last month started a banner ad campaign at Excite and purchased keywords at Goto.com last month. It dropped a 6,500-piece mailing to a list that included 1,000 Catalog Conference registrants May 1 and is planning to send 20,000 e-mail messages to potential shoppers every five days starting in June.

To collect e-mail addresses for that campaign, Saleoutlet is conducting a sweepstakes for a $1,000 shopping spree at Goto.com and will rent e-mail lists in markets outside the catalog realm.

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