One-Stop E-commerce: GiftCatalog.com
Type the word “Gift” into any Internet search engine, and you’ll be faced with more sites than you know what to do with.
From Gift.com to SendAGift.com, online gift retailing has become a hot-button business. With such a crowded field, why would the executives of retail giant Target Corp. decide that three of its strongest print catalog brands—Wireless, Signals and Seasons—would do better under one URL, GiftCatalog.com?
The answer lies in the shopping experience. Market researchers told Target’s online division, target.direct, that potential for cross-selling among the three catalogs was high, but that navigating three different sites was not as easy it should be. So GiftCatalog.com was born to aggregate three separate brands into a one-stop shop.
The Core Brands
As mentioned, the brands comprising GiftCatalog.com include Wireless, Signals and Seasons. The three catalogs were launched by Rivertown Trading Co., a direct marketing start-up that later joined with Target. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start in 1982.
“The Prairie Home Companion” by Garrison Keilor was the most successful radio show produced by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR). Officials at the non-profit member station of National Public Radio decided to sell a T-shirt based on the show and broadcast a phone number to order it. The shirt sold out quickly and gave the station a new mailing list to which to target mail order offers.
Linda Bauer, controller for target.direct, says, “In the 1980s, mail order was really much easier than it is today, and we were in a list-growing mode.”
The runaway success of the direct mail efforts led to a full-blown catalog. Featuring product tie-ins to radio shows on MPR, the catalog was called Wireless. By 1987, the success of merchandising and the Wireless catalog endangered MPR’s non-profit status, so catalog operations were spun off to become Rivertown Trading Co.