Want to outfit your sales team in crisp new golf shirts embroidered with your company’s logo? New Website BusinessDuds.com sells T-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, and other apparel that can be personalized with a company logo. Parent company Bizarre Promotions, a promotional marketing firm, handles online company stores for large firms such as Century 21; BusinessDuds aims to do the same for smaller companies, says Bizarre Promotions owner/founder Tim Somers. “It gives midsize companies a chance to do a company store without set-up or other fees involved.”
Since the site’s September launch, response has been “warm,” Somers says. “We’re not putting on extra staff or going crazy, but we haven’t done a full-blown marketing campaign. Response is right in line with what I expected.”
The Website’s top seller is a golf shirt; the item accounts for more than 50% of sales. Average order size hovers around $225, and the average price point is $24. The Website averages two to eight orders a day.
Somers plans to upgrade the site’s shopping cart functionality, which now forces customers to flip back and forth between screens to view items; soon the cart will show on one page all the products being bought. Somers will also promote BusinessDuds more extensively, advertising in magazines and maybe starting a radio ad campaign. So far, Somers has used press releases, direct mailers, and local trade shows to promote the Website.
Web address: www.businessduds.com Product category: casual business apparel Launched: September 2002 Target customer: companies with 250-1,000 employees Phone: 888-675-7883 Competitors: Lands’ End, Madetoorder.com
Even top-level martial artists need to take off their black belts and go casual sometimes, which is the concept behind USAMartialArtist. Founder/CEO Paul Bernard, a karate black belt, found a void in the market for branded casual product lines for martial artists. “I wanted to create that brand for the martial artist,” he says. So he developed a logo featuring a martial artist in profile, placed it on jackets, shirts, and other clothes and accessories, and in November launched the Website.
In its first month, the White Lake, MI-based site received about 500 hits and six orders, which Bernard says “is exactly where I’d hoped to be. Now that orders have started dribbling in, we expect them to come in heavier over the next month.” USAMartialArtist also mailed 10,000 print catalogs in tandem with the Website launch.
The Website had a hefty $3,000 first order — for 25 coats for a customer in Indonesia — but average Website orders are about $65; the average price point is $28.
To promote the site, Bernard discounted all coats on the Website for holiday 2002 and ran other specials, such as a free leather key chain for orders of $100 or more. Customers also receive a “special buy” offer when they receive an order, such as a discount on a gym bag. At press time, Bernard was planning to advertise in several martial arts publications, including Black Belt and Kung Fu magazines. Bernard is also considering branch off into a USAMartialArtist line of martial arts equipment and supplies.
Web address: www.usamartialartist.com Product category: apparel Launched: November 2002 Target customer: martial artists Phone: 248-360-5433 Competitors: Dick’s Sporting Goods, Oshman’s
When shopping for clothing, plus-size women have long been banished to the back corner of the store and limited to styles that were rarely fashion-forward. The perils of plus-size shopping inspired entrepreneur Kim Cooke to launch Mostly Plusses in July. The Website offers deeply discounted clothing in sizes up to 24W from renowned designers such as DKNY, Ralph Lauren, and Jones New York.
Cooke says initial response was “lower than expected,” though she attributes that to the tumultuous economy and a less-than-ideal midsummer launch date. Nevertheless, she adds that the mailing list for Mostly Plusses’ opt-in monthly newsletter continues to grow, and its customer base should grow along with it.
Designed by Greensboro, NC-based Managed Information Solutions, the Website has an average order size of $100 and an average price point of $75. It attracts up to 1,000 hits a day and enables shoppers to search by size, designer, and product category. The Website’s shipping charge is a flat $5.95 regardless of the order size.
To market the Website, MostlyPlusses.com is currently linked to plus-sized online portals such as Curvychick.com and Elegantplus.com. Cooke this year plans to make some changes to the site, to give it “some cleaner lines in the future, and to allow for seasonal and other special promotions.”
Web address: www.mostlyplusses.com Product category: plus-size women’s apparel Launched: July 2002 Target customer: plus-size women Phone: 800-749-1940 Competitors: Silhouettes, Avenue, Zaftique
Italian villa rental agency The Parker Co. now aims to help amuse customers once they’re in Italy with its Actividayz Website. Lynn, MA-based Parker Co., which rents villas for a week at a time, had received numerous requests from customers seeking cooking and wine-tasting classes and other local activities, so it launched Actividayz last January. The Website offers hundreds of Italian day trips.
Parker Co. vice president of sales Julie Carnevale says the initial response to Actividayz was disappointing, due to the general depressed state of the economy post-Sept. 11. “The beginning of 2002 for travel was very difficult. Probably that impacted us more than we would have hoped,” she says. Nevertheless, the company hopes to increase sales in 2003 in tandem with an overall turnaround for the travel industry.
Actividayz’ Website, designed by an outside firm, has an average price point of around $75 and attracts about 55,000 hits a month. All booking is done online; purchase confirmation takes 30 seconds, at which point a customer receives an e-mail notification. The site allows prospective customers to e-mail tours to friends, and it features a section that enables travel agents to facilitate bookings for clients. During the next six months, Actividayz plans to increase its assortment of tours, although Carnevale could not yet provide specifics.
Web address: www.actividayz.com Product category: travel Launched: January 2002 Target customer: couples and families Phone: 800-280-2811 Competitors: Italian Connection, Ciclismo Classico, Compass Travel