Edmund Scientifics Eyes Education Market

Although its parent company, Science Kit & Boreal Laboratories—itself a division of lab supplies giant VWR International—specializes in selling science-education supplies, so far Tonawanda, NY-based Edmund Scientifics has stuck with targeting hobbyists. But next week Edmund Scientifics will launch the 52-page Edmund Educational Technology catalog. The spin-off will mail to more than 100,000 customers and prospects

The so-called EdTech catalog features about 700 products, including a $40,000 Celestron Astrograph 20-inch Telescope and the $199.95 Parallax Boe Bot, an educational robot kit used to teach students the basics of electronics, robotics, and programming, says catalog manager Tim Burns. The average price point is about $100. Whereas Science Kit’s titles sell primarily traditional science-ed products, such as chemicals, vivisection frogs, and microscopes, EdTech will focus mostly on products for teaching students about technology.

Teachers and other education names make up less than 5% of Edmund Scientifics’ database, but they account for around 10% of sales, with average orders that are “generally three times what they are in our consumer segment,” says Burns. About half of the education names are affiliated with secondary or vocational schools, while the other half are colleges.

In addition to mailing to these house file names, the company rented subscriber lists from education trade publications such as “Technological Horizons and Education Journal” as well as from “a number of compiled lists with educational databases,” Burns says. Edmund Scientifics will print two editions of the catalog annually, with two spring mailings and two fall mailings planned.

To get the word out about the new catalog, the company has invested in “a significant amount” in search engine marketing, says Burns, with searchers being driven to an EdTech sitelet, located within Edmund Scientifics’ core www.ScientificsOnline.com site. If EdTech is a success, the company will consider launching an independent Website to support. “I can definitely see it having its own Website, with the sites [that and its core site] linked together, so you can navigate between the two of them,” he says. In addition, the new book will be advertised “in a couple of educational trade magazines in the fourth quarter.”

Edmund Scientifics is also expanding its retail efforts, with the launch of island kiosks (similar to those frequently seen stand-alone carts selling cell phones) in malls in the Rochester and Buffalo, NY, areas. The kiosks, each about 150 sq. ft. and selling around 100 products, will serve as a test of the viability of opening full-fledged stores

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