One-Stop E-commerce: GiftCatalog.com
In terms of sales and profits, the gambit of a new catalog worked. So Rivertown executives began branching out, seeking new business opportunities. They set their sights on a second title, and this time looked to television. Together with TV station WGBH in Boston, Rivertown launched Signals, which features products related to popular public TV shows. Later, a third title, Seasons, was established to offer a broader assortment of gifts and products targeted primarily at women.
With three growing brands in its portfolio, Rivertown then increased its mailing frequency by sending supplemental catalogs, such as the video section from Signals.
An e-commerce site, ILoveADeal.com, was established to feature overstock and liquidation items from all three catalogs. A print version of the ILoveADeal.com catalog is in the works, and will be mailed shortly. Says Bauer, “Being a liquidation vehicle, ILoveADeal.com is perfect for the Web. And really, the next evolution from the paper catalog—given the whole commodity cost structure of direct marketing—is to go online.”
As the 1990s progressed, paper and mailing costs rose, as did the presence of direct marketers on the Internet. The company’s next strategy, Bauer says, was to forge further ahead into the Web-marketing frontier.
Retail Food Chain
By 1998, the online storefronts for Rivertown’s catalogs were in the planning stages when the company was acquired by retail conglomerate Dayton Hudson Corp., which would soon change its name to Target Corp.
“With the acquisition of Rivertown, our primary strategy was to offer our catalog products through different channels, with the Web being the primary focus,” Bauer notes. “Target also wanted to start a Web-based channel for its retail market. So we combined the groups, and that’s what today is called target.direct.”
Because Rivertown was in the process of building its e-commerce platform when it was acquired by Target—and Target had not yet started that component of its business—all of target.direct is standardized on the same Web solution. That means the Web sites for Wireless, Signals, Seasons, I Love A Deal.com, and Target’s brick-and-mortar outlets, which include Marshall Field’s and Mervyns, all run on the same e-commerce backbone. And they share a call center and fulfillment operation.