Harry and David Launches Japanese Website

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, food gifts marketer Harry and David launched a Japanese Website on Jan. 29. The Japanese-language site will initially offer seven chocolate and nut gifts, products selected based on their appeal to the company’s existing Japanese customers as well as data the cataloger has about Japanese consumers as a whole. The selected merchandise easily meets customs and import requirements.

“We’re not able to offer all our products internationally, because many of them have a high degree of perishability,” says Bill Ihle, a spokesperson for Harry and David’s Medford, OR-based parent company, Bear Creek Corp. “So we tailor products that will travel well and represent us well.” The Japanese Website sells such products as truffles and snack mixes, because snacks “are very popular with Japanese consumers,” Ihle says.

Although Harry and David does no mass mailings into Japan — or any other foreign country — Japanese consumers have requested and ordered from Harry and David catalogs. “Japanese customers have been very loyal for many years,” Ihle says. Harry and David ships internationally to more than 100 countries. International business accounts for 1%-2% of the cataloger’s sales.

In making what Ihle calls a “moderate investment” in the Website, Harry and David has no plans to mail catalogs to Japanese customers who place orders on the site, nor does it intend to open a distribution center in Japan or provide a toll-free Japanese-language customer service phone line. All fulfillment is being handled out of the company’s Medford warehouse.

“We want to walk before we run,” Ihle says, “by putting our toe in the Japanese market gingerly. If the results are positive, we could certainly expand.” The Japanese site is Harry and David’s first country- and language-specific Website.

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