800.com Expands Site, Reach

By Alan Wolf On Oct 22 2001 - 6:00am




Amid the e-commerce wreckage of the post-Internet bubble business cycle, leading CE specialty e-tailer 800.com continues to expand its operations.

Among the pure-play's latest ploys, its PDA product offerings have been broken out into a stand-alone department and the company has entered a cross-channel partnership with Hollywood Entertainment, the nation's No. 2 video store chain.

The online PDA store, which is authorized to sell a full line of handhelds from Sony, Hewlett-Packard, Palm and Casio, was launched late last month in anticipation of the upcoming holiday selling season. Explained senior VP Frank Sadowski, "By offering PDAs, we're giving our customers what they want, and further solidifying our reputation as a one-stop shop for consumer electronics."

To help kick off the new tab, the company offered free shipping on all PDAs for the first two weeks following its Sept. 26 launch.

Separately, the company has forged a strategic e-commerce relationship with Hollywood Entertainment which links 800.com to the video rental chain's Reel.com movie content site. Under terms of the deal, Reel.com — a destination site for movie news, reviews and interviews — has added shopping icons that will carry visitors to 800.com for execution and fulfillment of music, movie and CE purchases. In turn, Hollywood Entertainment will receive a commission on all sales generated through the linkage.

The deal is the latest in an increasing number of cross-channel ties between e-tailers and brick-and-mortar merchants, as exemplified by Amazon.com's recent partnerships with Target and Circuit City. As 800.com's VP/chief marketing officer Tim Zuckert explained, "This partnership has tremendous potential to draw new customers, increase revenues and create numerous cross-promotional opportunities both online and in-store."

In other 800.com news, the company has added Sprint PCS rate plans to its wireless store to complement its existing AT&T offering and "solidify" its foothold in the mobile communications market. The e-tailer, which last May purchased the assets of Roxy.com and EverythingWireless, has acknowledged that "a strong presence" in wireless is part of its overall growth strategy.

"The wireless category is ideally suited to 800.com's specialty approach," said president/CEO Greg Drew. "We use the Web to make shopping for complex goods simple, convenient and comprehensive, focusing on categories that require a high level of information that is often hard to find in traditional retail."

Apparently that formula is working across most of the e-tailer's 75 CE categories and 300,000 movie, music and hardware SKUs. According to 800.com, which recently closed a $20 million round of venture funding, year-over-year sales for fiscal 2001 ended March 31 grew 41 percent to $48.3 million, while traffic has grown 42 percent to nearly 20 million visitors.

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