Spiegel Launches Free ISP With Yahoo

Spiegel Catalog Inc. announced this month the availability of Spiegel Free Web, a free, unlimited Internet access service available to consumers in the United States. The initiative is a collaborative effort of the multititle cataloger with Yahoo Inc., Santa Clara, CA, and Internet technology provider Spinway Inc., Palo Alto, CA.

“It's a way to build what we think is some logical synergy to our shop-at-home positioning,” said John Irvin, president/CEO of The Spiegel Catalog Group, Downers Grove, IL.

Spiegel Free Web is available via CD-ROM and can be downloaded from Spiegel's e-commerce Web site, The cataloger this month is mailing several million Discover Spiegel catalogs — an 80-page prospecting book — with the CD-ROMs bound into them, said Irvin.

The CD-ROM also will be included in the poly-bag wrap in which the company mails its main Spiegel catalog, called the big book, which is sent only to customers and prospects who request a catalog by phone. The next big book is scheduled to drop on June 19. The marketer anticipates that it will mail a total of nearly 5 million CD-ROMs in the catalogs.

Spiegel Free Web will be promoted online and in Spiegel catalogs. The service also will be promoted on Spiegel credit card statements and in its Ultimate Outlet stores.

The marketer has two main objectives for offering its consumers free Internet access.

First, the company hopes to drive more traffic to its Web site. “As more and more women in our customer profile start to use the Internet, we want to make sure that we're a strong branded presence for these customers,” said Irvin.

The second goal is increased customer retention. “If you shop with us online, we're going to follow up and send you a catalog, and we're finding a large number of first-time Internet shoppers at Spiegel are quickly converting to catalog shopping,” said Irvin.

While the 95-year-old company expects to boost sales via this service, it does not necessarily intend to send fewer catalogs. In fact, “we're hoping that we'll send more catalogs ultimately because we'll have more customers,” said Irvin.

Consumers can also call a customer service representative to request the CD-ROM. “Most customers prefer the CD. It seems to be a little bit easier for them,” said Irvin.

Free Web subscribers will be required to provide basic identifying information and personal interests so that Spiegel and Yahoo can provide content and co-branded services tailored to them. The co-branded start page will feature Spiegel product specials, and will provide links to Spiegel's Web site and Yahoo services, including Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Messenger. Spiegel also will be featured on Yahoo's shopping section.

Spinway, which services Kmart's free Internet service — also a combined effort with Yahoo — provides the technology.

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