New Web Catalogs

Mar 01, 2003 10:30 PM  By


When you need more than a greeting card but a huge bouquet of flowers is too much, FreshFlowercard offers a suitable compromise.

Launched in November, the Website sells European-inspired miniature floral arrangements secured within a three-dimensional card, which is placed inside a gold-and-black gift box. The Bellevue, WA-based company targets primarily women ages 30 and older, although about 30% of its customers are men buying the cards as gifts for women. Customers have been attracted to the site largely by word of mouth, since the site has not yet done any advertising or publicity.

FreshFlowercard’s arrangements range in price from $21.95 to $26.95. The company has not yet tracked the site’s performance closely, although according to owner Carol Railton, during the holiday season it saw one or two purchases out of every 16 hits, and it was receiving 100-400 hits a day.

The company’s card and floral arrangements are what Railton calls “a hybrid product elbowed in between the card companies and the Internet-based cut-flower businesses.” Yet she sees neither type of business as FreshFlowercard’s direct competition. “It’s an independent niche, a new product and concept that doesn’t really compete with those entities,” Railton says.

Railton plans to expand product offerings to full-scale fresh-flower arrangements. The company also is working to develop partnerships with nonpolitical charities where it would donate a portion of each arrangement’s sale to the organization of the customer’s choice.

Web address: Product category: floral gifts Launched: November 2002 Target customer: women ages 30 and over, male gift-givers Phone: 877-443-7374 Competitors:,

New York-based is going after fashion-conscious 18- to-40-year-old women with its eclectic mix of handbags, jewelry, home accessories, and fragrances.

Owner Sabina Richardson, a former marketing executive, created the Website in March 2002 with her partner, Dave Zabell. Richardson likes to think of as “an online boutique offering items not found in large department stores or catalogs.” Product prices range from $3.50 for a silk coin purse in the shape of a fortune cookie to $300 for an argyle faux-fur handbag.

To market the site, Richardson placed two ads in Lucky magazine last year, which she says increased revenue fivefold. The site attracts 200 visitors each day, though during the Christmas season the number more than doubled to about 450 visitors daily. The site receives orders from 1%-2% of its visitors; the average order is $30-$50.

Richardson is considering manufacturing items such as jewelry and cosmetics on her own, to ensure consistent merchandise quality. She has no immediate plans for a print catalog, although she may launch one eventually.

Web address: Product category: gifts Launched: March 2002 Target customer: women ages 18-40 Phone: 212-249-2714 Competitors: Red Envelope,, Uncommon Goods

Apt. 5 Cosmetics

You don’t have to visit one of Duane Reade’s 230 stores in New York and its environs to buy the drugstore chain’s Apt. 5 cosmetics. When the company unveiled the line in May 2002, it also launched an Apt. 5 Website.

“We were creating a cosmetics line exclusive to Duane Reade stores in New York, and at the same time, we wanted to try it globally on a Website,” says Karen Durham, president of Clearwater, FL-based Marketing Specialists, which developed the product line as well as the Website.

The cosmetics have a low unit price, selling for $4.00-$7.50, with an average price of $6.00. The Website pulls in about 7,000 visitors each month, from which it receives about 400 orders. The average order size of $29 “exceeded our expectations,” Durham says. “We offered an incentive to increase the orders size — free shipping on orders over $25 — and it’s worked very well.”

The Apt. 5 Cosmetics line has been advertised in a host of national magazines including Glamour, Allure, People, First for Women, Parents, and Seventeen. “We don’t advertise the Website other than in the magazines,” Durham says, “and orders are coming in from all over the country.”

Durham says the company will offer new cosmetics items in the future, although she would not elaborate. Apt. 5 also is constantly changing its color mix to reflect style trends. Duane Reade has no plans to mail an Apt. 5 print catalog, however. “Because the nature of cosmetics changes so rapidly, it doesn’t make sense,” Durham says.

Web address: Product category: cosmetics Launched: May 2002 Target customer: Women ages 18-49 Phone: 212-273-5799 Competitors:,,

Viv & Ingrid

Viv & Ingrid, a four-year-old Albany, CA-based wholesaler of jewelry and accessories, is now targeting consumers with its Website. Launched in November, the site sells primarily products handmade by owners Vivian Wang and Ingrid Chen.

Viv & Ingrid merchandise is already carried by upscale retailers in 11 states, including New York’s Henri Bendel. Items range in price from $10 for a hair accessory to $200 for a necklace. The firm’s online presence was always “part of our business plan,” says Wang.

The site received about 1,500 visitors when it launched, coinciding with a promotion in Lucky magazine that promised the readers 20% off their purchase. During subsequent weeks, the number of visitors dropped to its current level of about 800 a day. The site averages three orders a day; the average sale is $100.

Wang and Chen would like to expand their merchandise line, concentrating on accessories “that are modern and fashion-forward, but also very wearable,” Wang says. A consumer print catalog will eventually be part of the company’s distribution plan, but Chen says that the emphasis for the time being is building a brand name.

Web address: Product category: jewelry and accessories Launched: November 2002 Target market: Upscale female shoppers age 25-44, male gift-givers Phone: 800-231-1878 Competitors:,