The Third Annual I.Merchant Awards

Given the aftermath of the dot-com crash, not to mention the punishing economic climate, some Web marketers might feel they deserve an award just for staying in business. But to win an I.Merchant Award, online marketers have to do a lot more than stay afloat or even simply sell goods successfully on the Web. The I.Merchant Awards competition, sponsored by Catalog Age magazine, recognizes Internet marketing excellence in a variety of areas, including site design, navigation capabilities, and order procedures. ▪ A panel of e-commerce experts evaluated the I.Merchant entries on such criteria. To receive a Gold Award, an entry needed an average score of at least nine points (on a scale of 1-10). Silver Award winners boasted an average score of at least seven points. The Website of the Year went to the entries (there was a tie this year) with the highest score overall. ▪ And now, on with the show. Ladies and gentlemen: the 2002 I.Merchant Award winners.

WEBSITE OF THE YEAR

(also Gold Award, Consumer Soft Goods) eBags

www.ebags.com
Marketing director: Peter Cobb
Webmaster: Mike Frazzini
Website designer: Keith Bristol

What can you say about eBags? Let us rephrase that — what can’t you say about eBags! This site not only won a Gold Award in the Consumer Soft Goods category, but it also tied for Website of the Year, for one simple reason: It does many things, and it does all of them well.

Why it won Website of the Year: As one judge said, “It is absolutely amazing how clear the home page is, considering the sheer volume of stuff to look at!” A tremendous amount of merchandise is for sale on this site, but careful navigation and an easy design prevents visitors from feeling overwhelmed. So despite the number of offers, promotions, and special features on this site, said another panelist, “it works because everything is so appropriate and tailored carefully with the customer in mind.”

For instance, a “build your own messenger bag” feature is lots of fun, but it also ensures that customers get a bag that fills all their requirements — and is one that they can’t get anywhere else. And you definitely know what to expect with amazingly detailed graphics throughout the site.

“What I especially like about eBags is the copy — it is nuanced to fit each distinct product line,” praised a judge. “A hip Kipling bag gets a different tone than an Eagle Creek suitcase, and appropriately so.” And eBags makes it fun to shop, incorporating airline lingo with features such as “estimated arrival” to tell you when to expect your order and a section providing guidelines for carry-on restrictions.

With so many value-added items, the eBags site is an exemplary hybrid of e-commerce and community, concluded a judge. As we said, eBags does so much so well.

Idea to steal: Daily specials and promotions to motivate customers to visit every day. The site has day-specific promotions such as “wild Wednesday,” during which customers save $10 when they spend at least $30.
— Shayn Ferriolo

WEBSITE OF THE YEAR

(also Gold Award, Consumer Soft Goods) Orvis

www.orvis.com
Marketing director: John Rogers
Webmasters: Dan Gracia, Ed Ralbovsky
Website designer: Tracey St. John
Merchandisers: Tom Rosenbauer, Dawn Fisher
Copywriters: Tom Murray, Bob Dagley, Debra Carr
Advertising director: Bill Eyre

Orvis’s Web success is evident from the home page through every other page of the site, making it a required destination for sportsmen and country-living enthusiasts. “There is nothing that Orvis forgot to include” was one judge’s way of summing up this Gold Award winner, which also tied for Website of the Year.

Why it won Website of the Year: The site opens with a simplicity and authenticity that help support the Orvis brand. From there it’s a cinch for visitors to make their way throughout the site, thanks to consistent navigation tools and “breadcrumbs” showing their progress.

Orvis has also managed to transfer and translate all of the exceptional elements of its print catalog to its site. The crackling-crisp photos are a mix of lifestyle and product shots, the customer service policies are friendly, and the copy is lively and authoritative. In fact, one judge felt that much of Orvis’s edge comes from “copy so appropriate that you understand that the people responsible for it must be truly dedicated to the Orvis lifestyle.”

Then there are the Orvis Website’s many value-added features, such as fishing reports and a travel section. “Clearly this company knows its customers and goes above and beyond to cater to them,” said another judge. Seal all of this with a great guarantee and an easy checkout, and no wonder judges — and no doubt customers — continue to be wowed each time they visit the Orvis site.

Idea to steal: Clever methods for capturing visitor data. Orvis.com doesn’t simply ask you to register and leave you to wonder, “What’s in it for me?” Rather, visitors are encouraged to sign up for value-added features, such as educational e-newsletters or information about hunting schools and the numerous conservation projects that Orvis promotes.
SF

B-TO-B HARD GOODS/HIGH TECH Silver Award

Edmund Optics

www.edmundoptics.com
Marketing director: Nicole Edmund
Webmaster: Jeff Harvey
Website designers: Mike Harris, Jeff Harvey
Copywriter: Kevin Rodkin
Consultant: Interactive Network Systems

What you see on the home page is what you get: a cleanly designed, meticulously organized Website with simple, effective navigation.

Why it won a Silver Award: In the words of one judge, “The high-end design makes a dry product category more interesting.” Rather than cluttering up the opening pages with photos of the lasers, electronic imaging tools, and other optical engineering products it sells, Edmund keeps the pages crisp and tidy, with minimal distractions. Product pages are also simple, allowing engineers and other optics professionals to concentrate on the diagrams, spec tables, and item descriptions.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award: One judge felt that the customer service — in particular, the checkout process — isn’t as user-friendly as it should be. Shipping charges aren’t calculated until well into the process; once checkout has started, it’s virtually impossible to remove items from the shopping cart. In addition, the guarantee is hard to uncover.

Idea to steal: The product pages offer links to application notes, glossaries, and other pertinent editorial for Edmund’s clients, leaving the product pages themselves easy to read and shop from.
Sherry Chiger

Silver Award

New Pig

www.newpig.com
Project manager: Selesia Byrd
Internet marketing: Michael Haslet
Web content services: Tom Hall
Design: Beth Love
Technical lead: Merwin Updyke

New Pig’s site is both a sales channel and a reference center for spill containment and cleanup data. The Website gets just about everything right, from merchandising to, as one judge said, “the easiest and most efficient shopping cart.”

Why it won a Silver Award: To quote a judge’s summary of this online catalog, the New Pig site “handles aspects of content, graphics, navigation, and interconnectivity in an easily understood and manageable way, making the shopping experience comfortable, meaningful, and enjoyable.” Although it’s a b-to-b site, the company uses tools usually reserved for consumers, such as upselling. This points to both a strong database capability and New Pig’s understanding of its customers. A reordering feature enables time-starved executives to quickly submit a replenishment order; New Pig also reinforces its stellar guarantee throughout.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award: It’s hard to find a specific product from the home page. You may have to click through to a listing of categories and then subcategories before you can view the entire assortment.

Idea to steal: Visitors can click on a link called “Porker Paper” from the home page to find the names of the top dogs — errr, pigs — at New Pig, a nice customer confidence builder.
SF

Silver Award

U.S. Plastic Corp.

www.usplastic.com
Director/Webmaster/designer: Kevin Kempton
Copywriter: Renea Nutt
Marketing: Nathan Pohlman

“There’s a great future in plastics” was a memorable line from the 1967 film The Graduate . And for industrial plastics marketer U.S. Plastic Corp., it’s apparent that there’s a great future in e-commerce.

Why it won a Silver Award: Starting with its no-nonsense home page that “gets right down to business,” to quote one judge, it’s clear that U.S. Plastic knows its audience. Said another judge: “There’s a great presentation of important elements” such as returns processes, product samplings, and the search and cart functionalities. Merchandising is a winning element as well; the site takes a focused approach with “a broad range of SKUs cutting across many types of manufacturing and service industries,” a panelist noted. Moreover, product specifications are explained in detail. If you’re unsure about a product, said a judge, “the specs and explanations will guide you to make the right decision.”

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award: Some minor creative points drove down its score, such as too many products on a page in some places, as did a failure to spell-check copy. Also, a judge pointed out that U.S. Plastic’s policies and help functions could be displayed more prominently throughout the site.

Idea to steal: The express order by SKU feature “is great for repeat buyers and those customers migrating from the print catalog to the Web,” said one judge.
Melissa Dowling

B-TO-B SOFT GOODS Silver Award

Galls

www.galls.com
Vice president of advertising: Tim O’Malley
Marketing director/Webmaster/designer/merchandiser/copywriter: inhouse
Consultant: Red Rover Digital (R.R. Donnelley & Sons)

The self-proclaimed authority in public-safety equipment and apparel, Galls takes pains to have its Website establish the company as a leading online resource for its market.

Why it won a Silver Award: Galls does an exceptional job of offering many SKUs in related but clearly different product categories, with efficient search capabilities to help users find items. The site’s copy also drew high marks from the judging panel. “Each product has sufficient copy to support the sale, and the titles and prices are easy to find,” enthused one judge. And Galls’s placement and layout of its customer service information is “probably the best I’ve seen,” said a panelist. Galls University — “courses” about the history, background, and details/uses of products — provides good editorial support for various categories, though one judge felt the feature should have been better promoted.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award: The site desperately needs more photos, several panelists agreed, and it should improve the images it does use. “Product images are poor or nonexistent,” complained one judge.

Idea to steal: The flashing text on the home page is a good attention getter. (And in the case of Galls, highly appropriate — after all, the marketer targets safety professionals, who are used to sirens and flashing lights.)
MD

Silver Award

WearGuard

www.wearguard.com
Marketing director: Joan Abrams
Webmaster: Charles Seelig
Designers: Kathy Evers, Gilda Horgan
Merchandiser: George Woodward
Copywriters: Karl Klaussen, Susan Saunders
Web content developer: Susan Saunders

Rugged work apparel marketer WearGuard takes its service personally, offering a variety of custom embroidery and screen printing personalization options for products.

Why it won a Silver Award: Its core product line and personalization capabilities notwithstanding, copy is king on this site. WearGuard has “one of the best Websites I have ever seen,” raved one judge. “All information is presented clearly and innovatively, from the mini-tour of the new Website to sizing and ordering.” Another panelist lauded the site’s use of bullets to highlight product benefits and its placement of tabs to detail information. And on the customer service/ordering side, “there’s plenty of information for every question,” noted a judge. “Policies are thorough and well segmented.”

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award: Despite its many good points, WearGuard is a difficult site to shop and navigate. One judge pointed to the site’s “overzealous” use of pop-up windows, rather than integrating features detailing shipping information and colors.

Idea to steal: The company’s simplified step-by-step ordering instructions prove to users that it really is just as easy to order online as it is by phone.
MD

CONSUMER HARD GOODS/HIGH TECH Gold Award

Crutchfield

www.crutchfield.com
Director of Internet publishing: Lawrence Becker
Web IT team leader: Keri Crum,
Internet designers: Chad Fawcett, Scott Herman
Internet developer: Mike Morris
Director of knowledge management: Jim Richardson

Crutchfield’s home page pops, with vivid colors that draw visitors in. Once they’re inside, the site challenges them to stop by and not come away with some new knowledge about consumer or auto electronics.

Why it won a Gold Award: On the Crutchfield site, “the focus is on the product,” noted a judge. And that’s exactly where it should be, especially if you have the keen merchandising to back it up as Crutchfield does. Add to that superb copy that is “straightforward” yet “catchy,” and it is clear why Crutchfield claimed the Gold. Design makes room for important elements such as the “this week’s hottest products” section and a link for international customers, but it’s not “overly ornate,” said a judge. Further, navigation is a breeze. Whether he’s on the home page, a product page, or a customer service page, the visitor can always return to any portion of the site with the click of a button from the header bar. On the home page, Crutchfield states, “Our 28 years of experience give you advantages you just can’t find anywhere else.” We are inclined to agree.

Idea to steal: Tabs on the product pages that enable customers to drill down to the depth of product description they require.
SF

Gold Award

Plow & Hearth

www.plowhearth.com
Vice president of marketing: Peter M. Rice
Webmaster: Jennifer McCray
Vice president of creative services: Jean O. Giesmann

If you’re seeking an example of a site that’s a true extension of its print catalog, look no further than Plow & Hearth. The company knows its brand, stays true to it, and makes the most of it online while making it easy for customers to shop.

Why it won a Gold Award: An established cataloger of gifts and decor with a country feel, Plow & Hearth takes its collection to the Web without losing the down-home feel and creative elements that make its print catalog so successful and recognizable. This comprehensive site begins with great-looking, hardworking creative. “The graphic accents on the interior pages make a very pleasing design, and the positioning of upsell offers make it easy to deposit extra product into the shopping cart,” said one judge. Another panelist liked the use of space and the option of looking at products one at a time or viewing all items in a category at once. Plow & Hearth layers homespun copy that speaks to the customers with FAQs to highlight the most important benefits and features. The judges also gave high marks to the customer service and privacy policies, which “are prominent throughout the site” and “match the brand, straightforward and simple.” One panelist summed things up this way: “Plow & Hearth takes pride in the Website, and it shows.”

Idea to steal: The president’s letter on the top of the home page is not only reminiscent of the institutional copy in a print catalog, but it also makes customers feel at home and at ease — no easy feat on the Web!
SF

Silver Award

HP Shopping

www.hpshopping.com
Marketing director: Susan Boyce

The HP Shopping site boasts all the bells and whistles needed to make the customer happy. At the same time, its scaled-down design prevents customers from getting sidetracked or frustrated by the sophisticated technological options. Best of all, the site leverages its biggest asset, customer service, with a plethora of options for obtaining information.

Why it won a Silver Award: Judges were bowled over by the customer service innovations — not entirely surprising from an effort by computer giant Hewlett-Packard. Aside from tech-related options such as live chat and order tracking, HP Shopping provides extensive FAQs, next-day delivery for orders placed up until 10 p.m., financing, and easy access to warranty information. Navigation and design are stellar as well. The home page has product categories up front, with promotions scattered on the sides and the bottom of the page, while shopping cart and other service functions are carefully positioned on the left. And the judges cheered the way the site outlines the various price points within each product category (and even in some of the subcategories). For instance, if you’re searching for a digital camera, the site asks what category you fall into, “point and shoot” or a “photo enthusiast,” a feature that helps narrow down the field of price points and product choices.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award: While the site offers many special offers, judges criticized how they were promoted. For instance, a page displayed a printer with the price slashed in red and a new, lower price posted — but if you looked closely, you saw in small print “mail in rebate.” And a judge noted that it can take more than a few clicks to get to some of the products.

Idea to steal: HP presents depth of merchandising with subcategories corresponding to level of technology and price point, simplifying shopping for novices and the computer-savvy customers alike.
SF

Silver Award

Musician’s Friend

www.musiciansfriend.com
Internet director: Eric Meadows
Webmaster: Christopher James
Website designer: Monica Devine
Senior vice president of merchandising: Craig Johnson
Lead Internet copywriter: Dennis Kambury

While serious about music, the Musician’s Friend site doesn’t take itself too seriously. A friendly site indeed, Musician’s Friend goes beyond selling to create a community among its customers.

Why it won a Silver Award: The site is about entertainment and enjoyment, and it shows, said one judge. It even has a “FunZone” page, complete with an animated Mardi Gras-inspired mask as a logo. Here you can play musical trivia games, download righteous rifts, and even play the virtual guitar (a cyberstep up from the air guitar, we’re sure). But such fun facets don’t distract from more serious matters — selling a host of instruments and accessories. Said one panelist, “Navigating is choreless, and browsing is made easy with the menu at the top of each page.” And several praised the site for offering numerous promotions without being “offensive.” In fact, said one, “I think it adds to the stickiness of the site.”

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award: Finding a product guarantee is tough. And once you do, you see that you need to buy additional “gold coverage” if you want more than the standard manufacturer’s limited warranty. Customers may shy away from a site that doesn’t stand behind its manufacturers.

Idea to steal: The “FunZone” page and other value-added editorial offerings are fabulous for getting customers to linger on the site — and bookmark it, for that matter. And as anyone worth his mettle in the Internet world will attest, the longer you get them to stay, the more apt they are to buy.
SF

Silver Award

The Sharper Image

www.sharperimage.com
Marketing director: Julie Hopkins
Webmaster: Brett Hawkins
Merchandiser: Bridget Ferguson

Just like the products it sells, the Sharper Image Website is inventive, creative, and fun. “Invented here” and “best seller” tags help instill the feel of merchandise innovation and exclusivity.

Why it won a Silver Award: Overall, the Sharper Image Website is intuitive and easy to use, agreed the judges. “I like the prominent shopping cart and the running total on the top right side of the page,” enthused one panelist. The store locator and the omnipresent toll-free number help to reinforce the company’s multichannel focus. Judges were also keen on the use of promotions throughout the site. “These work because they give value to both the customer and the company,” said one judge. Another said that they were “great incentives to inspire repeat buyers.” The “Sharper Image Dollars” program gives buyers — regardless of channel — the equivalent of 5% of their purchase to be used toward future purchases.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award: While the copy is thorough, it could be presented in a more organized format, said at least one panelist, and the fonts could be improved for readability. If you provide as much product information as The Sharper Image site does, the judges agreed, you need to present it so that it’s not too much for the eye to take in.

Idea to steal: Subtle use of Flash technology that enhances rather than detracts from other elements on the site. The company may have built its reputation on high-tech gadgets, but it knows not to overdose on Flash.
SF

CONSUMER INFO./SERVICES Silver Award

Wilderness Travel

www.wildernesstravel.com
Marketing director: Barbara Banks
Webmaster: Spencer Wallace
Website designer: Dog and Bone Design
Copywriter: Pam Shandrick

Zebras and lemurs and whales, oh my. If you’re into exotic travel, the Wilderness Travel Website provides all you need to plan your next jaunt.

Why it won a Silver Award: As you might expect with a site that charges more than $5,000 for a Serengeti safari, Wilderness Travel doesn’t skimp on creative. Not only is the site “beautiful,” according to at least one judge, it’s also user-friendly “and makes you want to go on any and all of the trips it offers!” Wilderness Travel’s relatively simple design is well organized and makes good use of photos, said another panelist, “and the PDFs are full of details” that conjure up great thoughts about embarking on a trip. Users will find plenty of vacation options with different adventures, destinations that vary by time, dates, and length of trip.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award: One judge felt that the opening text was too short and “not that engaging.” Also, the judge said, Wilderness Travel needs a unique font for the site’s copy.

Idea to steal: Wilderness Travel’s photo gallery and guest book give the site a homey, community feel.
MD

Silver Award

Mountain Travel Sobek

www.mtsobek.com
Marketing director: Robyn Gorman
Webmaster: Camilla Hvalsoe
Website designer: Deluxe Digital Media
Copywriters: Dena Bartolome, Camilla Hvalsoe

Stunning, gorgeous, breathtaking…the panelists used these adjectives to describe the Mountain Travel Sobek home page. And the backdrop of the velvety green mountains surrounding the lost city of Machu Picchu is just an indication of many other great things to explore inside the site.

Why it won a Silver Award: The home page is beautiful, yes, but at least as appealing are the specials on the right side. And the prominent “find a trip” link under the tagline “the adventure company” lets visitors immediately drill down to the vacations of their choice by selecting region, country, and activities. The helpful maps and itineraries ensure that nothing is left to chance, while thorough and engaging copy builds customers’ expectations. And with the aid of navigational bars at the top of each page, customers can always find their way home — though it’s highly doubtful that they will want to!

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award: Though the copy is delightful, users need to really dig to uncover sufficient information about each trip. Also, a few panelists felt that the site could have imparted a greater sense of enthusiasm and energy.

Idea to steal: Mountain Travel Sobek uses a beautiful “full bleed” photograph as a backdrop for the site’s home page, which reinforces the brand and, of course, whets the visitor’s appetite for more.
SF

CONSUMER SOFT GOODS Silver Award

The Ferret Store

www.ferretstore.com
Marketing director/Webmaster/merchandiser/copywriter: Scott Sanfilippo
Website designer: Vast Planet
President: Joseph Palko

As its tagline states, The Ferret Store is not just for ferrets. You’ve got to love a site that in addition to selling stuff for cats, dogs, birds, and ferrets offers special diet foods for primates and promises “cool products for your hermit crab….”

Why it won a Silver Award: Just like a ferret, the site’s home page is “fast-loading, simple, and cute,” said one judge. The home page also has a small-business feel that works well for this niche market. The cartoon ferret mascot is a crowd pleaser too. And The Ferret Store does a good job placing product — a lot of product, for a variety of pets — prominently throughout.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award: Design “has a bit of clunkiness,” said a judge, due to the rounded elements at the top of the pages. Its marketing concept also needs work, as the site offers much more than its name promises. Despite its tagline, a judge said, “you’d still associate the site with only ferrets.”

Idea to steal: The Ferret Store’s pet forums enable pet enthusiasts to cyberchat among themselves.
MD

Silver Award

Harry and David

www.harryanddavid.com
Marketing manager: Julie Derry
Webmaster: Keziah Veres
Website designer: Ken Nash
Merchandiser: Brenda Spencer
Copywriters: Marcus G. Smith, Mary Pat Ronemus
Consultant: Jeffrey Bernard

“Delicious since 1934” reads the tagline on the home page. Clearly, Harry and David is trying to use the relatively new medium of the Internet to reinforce the strengths of its longstanding brand. And the judges agreed that the food gifts marketer is succeeding.

Why it won a Silver Award: Harry and David is more than just a source of fruit baskets to send to Aunt Martha every Christmas. It has built a thriving b-to-b division as well. A link on the home page takes you to what could be a stand-alone site, devoted to promoting its corporate gifts business. The b-to-b side of the site offers free consultations and customized packages. But consumers aren’t neglected. Service features include personalized online gift announcements; “My Giftlist,” which enables customers to store and update gift orders; a gift finder function that lets users search by keyword, price range, or product category; and updated information about harvests and product availability. “Lots of little service features lift this Websites score,” said one judge. “Direct marketing is about developing relationships, and Harry and David is doing that.” The panelists also praised the merchandising, which goes beyond the Fruit of the Month Clubs and Gift Towers that made Harry and David famous. The site also sells baked goods, flowers, and even home accessories, such as table linens and flatware, that complement its core product line. “Great depth and choices for b-to-c, b-to-b, and gifts alike,” enthused a panelist.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award: At least one judge flat-out hated the home page: “It’s okay for those familiar with Harry and David, but otherwise it’s cluttered, with no stated purpose.” And not all panelists rated the copy highly. One judge, for instance, dismissed is as little more than “to the point.”

Idea to steal: Affiliate programs don’t receive much attention nowadays, but they must work for Harry and David. A link to more information about becoming an affiliate Website appears on every page of the site.
SC

Silver Award

Woolrich

www.woolrich.com
Marketing director/merchandiser/copywriter: Valerie Komarnicki
Webmaster/Web designer: Keto Gyekis
MIS manager: David Yorks
Internet customer service manager: Pam Pletcher
Manager of distribution worldwide: Conrad Schlesinger

Woolrich uses its Website to further reinforce its growing shift from wholesaler to hybrid company promoting its consumer apparel business. The site is easy and uncomplicated and allows a hassle-free shopping experience while introducing customers to Woolrich’s rugged style.

Why it won a Silver Award: “The home page is fast-loading and visually appealing,” declared one judge. Woolrich uses images of outdoor elements such as sticks and leaves to identify itself with an outdoor lifestyle and reinforce the brand. What’s more, navigation is intuitive, with links displayed at the top of each page. Another panelist praised the site’s ability to drill down from the home page, “a real time- and sanity-saver.” With pull-down menus from the top-of-page links you can see, say, the selection of boy’s sweaters and bypass the category page altogether.

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award: Judges were disturbed by a few design quirks. Some felt that the product images and copy come too close to the left navigation panel, and they didn’t like how far to the right the product detail content extends.

Idea to steal: Woolrich’s magnifying feature for graphics, which provides a good look at items not from a thumbnail, but from a clear product shot. The image is a popover that shows extreme detail and is not compromised by graininess.
SF

Silver Award

Patagonia

www.patagonia.com
Marketing director: Craig Wilson
Webmaster: Lee Rea
Website designer: Bill Boland
Merchandiser: Kevin Churchill
Copywriter: Adam Chamberlain
Consultant: The Zane Ray Group

“True to the brand,” said one judge of the Patagonia site. And considering the brand — a renowned manufacturer/marketer of premiere outdoor gear and apparel — that’s high praise indeed.

Why it won a Silver Award: From its “clean and inviting” design to its “uncomplicated and straightforward” marketing concept to its easy-to-understand and Web-appropriate copy, this site is a winner. One judge admired the way the company expresses its mission through its merchandising and its editorial: “Patagonia is very involved with its customers, and that is evident from this site.” A “who we are” link on the home page explains that this firm is staffed by “Patagoniacs”: “The fellow who answers the phone is an 11-time world champion freestyle Frisbee player. One of our vice presidents grows organic produce to sell at farmers’ markets. And the head of our sample room spends much of her spare time rehabilitating raptors at our Ventura headquarters.”

Why it didn’t win a Gold Award: Technical difficulties. At least one judge reported problems on several occasions with the search function. “A few times, the site prompted me to check back when I tried to input basic keywords such as ‘shorts’ or ‘jackets.’”

Idea to steal: Patagonia doesn’t have stores of its own, but dealers carry its products. A “store locator” link helps consumers find dealers should they prefer to shop via that channel.
SF

The Judges

Tom Hall, director of Web content services, New Pig Corp.

Kathy Hecht, vice president of Web strategy, Excelligence

Robin Lebo, president, Lebo Direct

Robert MacArthur, chairman, Opt-in Data

Julie McCann Mulligan, vice president of creative services, 1-800-Flowers

Rory O’Connor, president, The White Room Web Development

Jeffrey Parnell, vice president/general manager, Blair Corp.

Dr. Alan Rimm-Kaufman, vice president of marketing, Crutchfield

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