In January, two years after it debuted an informational Website, sports equipment manufacturer/marketer Collegiate Pacific launched an commerce-enabled version of the site.
The site sells 3,000 products, ranging from batting cages to soccer goals to tennis nets. Collegiate Pacific sells its proprietary brands of products (Edwards tennis equipment, Funnets soccer gear, and Markersmart field marking equipment) as well as items from brands such as Wilson, Rawlings, and Spalding. The company targets 200,000 schools, parks, youth centers, and government and correctional facilities nationwide. Currently, the $18 million Dallas-based company has a customer base of 35,000, says president Adam Blumenfeld, and adds 1,000 new customers a month.
Customers can use the site to check account status, print an order form, get assembly instructions, process a return, track an order, or contact a division head. The site is fully integrated into the company’s back-end software so that price and product changes are instant, says Blumenfeld, which helps to “prevent a phone call on both ends.”
To promote the site, Collegiate Pacific uses e-mail and fax broadcasts, online ordering incentives, such as “buy one get one free,” and refer-a-friend programs. The company also advertises the site through its print catalog and includes the URL on its products and all promotional literature.
Web address: www.cpacsports.com Product category: sports equipment Launched: January 2002 Target: institutions Phone: 888-566-8966
Pennsylvania Correctional Industries
Pennsylvania Correctional Industries (PCI), a division of the state’s Department of Corrections, launched a Website in October 2001 to sell its Big House brand of products to governments and nonprofit organizations. Because the goods are made by the prison inmates, by law, PCI can sell only to government agencies and nonprofit organizations.
Products available on the site include personal-care items such as soaps; containers and bags; food; cleaners; and recreation and storage solutions, such as picnic tables and storage barns. By April, PCI plans to add several new product categories including apparel and furniture.
The site employs more than 1,900 inmates at 18 institutions, says PCI director Marc Goldberg. The money from all sales generated goes back into the site and the work program.
At about 100 hits and two or three sales, initial response to the site met expectations, says Goldberg. PCI promotes the site at trade shows and conferences as well as advertises in journals that target eligible customers, such as Township Commissioner Association. Before customers can place an order, they must fill out an application for eligibility.
At press time, a newly redesigned print catalog based on the Website was set to mail in late January.
Web address: www.pci.state.pa.us Product category: general merchandise Launched: October 2001 Target: government agencies and nonprofit groups Phone: 877-Order-CI
Is it time to replace that crusty, stained coffee mug sitting on your desk? Then check out Wondermugs. The Clifton, VA-based company launched its Website in December to sell its line of coffee mugs. Wondermugs, which merged with its Point Marion, PA-based manufacturer Houze Glass in August 2000, is a wholly owned subsidiary of holding company Wilson Brothers USA.
Wondermugs uses thermochromatic, or heat-sensitive, inks that change the design and color of a mug when a hot beverage is poured into it. The mugs come in more than 60 styles with varying themes, including sports, nature, holidays, and occupations. Prices are $10.95 or $11.95 a mug; the average order is $20-$40.
Founded by Jim Simpson in 1994, Wondermugs sells to consumers and wholesalers via craft shows, festivals, and holiday kiosks in shopping malls. Wondermugs have also been featured on the Home Shopping Network and QVC. The Website is geared primarily to consumers.
At press time, the site could not process credit-card information; customers e-mail the online order form to the factory or fax or phone in their order. But by the end of the first quarter, the company expects the site to be fully commerce-enabled, says Simpson, who now serves as executive vice president for the Wondermugs division of Houze Glass.
While Simpson describes response to the site as good, he would like it to be higher. “We just scratched the surface of what the potential could be,” he says. To help promote its site and print catalog (launched in 1996), Wondermugs includes a card in every mug with the catalog name and the URL.
Web address: www.wondermugs.com Product category: mugs Launched: December 2001 Target: consumers Phone: 800-Wndrmug
Encinitas, CA-based general merchandise emporium Addie’s launched its e-commerce site in December, three years after the debut of its informational site.
Addie’s sells everything from apparel and apothecary items to collectibles and pet accessories. The site also enables visitors to e-mail questions to an antiquities expert and the company’s resident chef. The Website targets women ages 29-65 with an annual household income of at least $90,000. The average order is $150.
Response to the site has been decent, says marketing manager Julianna Firtel, with 400 hits within the first few weeks of its launch. It helps that Addie’s is often cited in the “where to buy” sections of magazines such as Elle Decor. Addie’s also advertises in local magazines geared to its target audience, and the company planned to rent lists after the holidays for promotional mailings.
The company already sends mailings to its 40,000-name house file, the remains of its now-defunct print catalog. Launched in 1998, the catalog ceased operation after holiday 2000 because it was too expensive to maintain, Firtel says. But Addie’s plans to mail a 24-page catalog this summer as a Web traffic driver, she adds.
Web address: www.addies.com Product category: general merchandise Launched: December 2001 Target: affluent women, ages 29-65 Phone: 877-423-3437