* Donnelley Partners With Web Design Firm

Commercial printer R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co. is expected today to announce a strategic partnership with Web-site design and development firm Multimedia Live, adding custom e-commerce solutions to the services Donnelley offers catalogers through its online initiative Select Source.

Though the catalog industry has been inexplicably slow to adopt the Internet as a sales tool — less than 30 percent accept orders online, according to the most recent industry estimates — Donnelley's clients recently have shown heightened interest in the medium after reports that 1998 online holiday sales were up more than 200 percent over 1997.

“The decision to partner with Multimedia Live reflects the growing importance of e-commerce to our clients' business mix and strategy,” said Peggy Pulliam, general manager of R.R. Donnelley On-Line Services.

Also, the number of e-mail complaints from Internet consumers disappointed over the lack of merchandise catalogers are putting online is rising, according to Brian Bodell, director, electronic commerce sales for Chicago-based Donnelley.

“It's the No. 1 complaint,” Bodell said. “People go online expecting to see everything on a cataloger's Web site.” Catalogers, however, pose a challenge to e-commerce solution providers because of the large number of stock-keeping units in a typical book.

“A lot of e-commerce software packages were made with mom-and-pop shops in mind where they only plan to put a small number of products online,” said Pulliam.

The $5-billion printer used Jos. A Bank Clothiers' 10,000 or so SKUs to test a variety of e-commerce software packages for the ability to handle large, complex databases before settling on Petaluma, CA-based Multimedia Live and its proprietary software package MarketPlace, said Pulliam adding that several popular e-commerce software packages were unable to handle the load. She would not disclose names.

Donnelley debuted Select Source at the 15th Annual Catalog Conference & Exhibition in June with three services:

*Conversion of product shots to Internet-publishable images for $10 to $55 each.

*Store hosting at www.goshoppingonline for $1,000 per month or 10 percent of merchandise sales, whichever is greater.

*Promotion through an affiliate network that at press time was about 700 sites, including Yahoo, Lycos, iVillage and Home Arts, and projected to be 1,000 sites by June. Donnelley pays sites that carry advertising or links to its clients' sites a 5-percent to 7-percent commission on product sales to visitors from the linked sites.

So far, about 50 mostly business-to-consumer marketers are participating in Select Source, including Jos. A. Bank, Burpee Seeds, Brylane Home, Kingsize Men, Rubbermaid and Spiegel's Newport News. Donnelley expects to have 150 catalogers participating in Select Source by the end of the year.

Multimedia Live claims a staff of 55 Web site developers and designers. Among the firm's clients are direct response TV marketer Guthy-Renker.

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