A Chat With October’s Profile, Peter Cobb, co-founder/senior vice president, eBags
CS: How many employees do you have?
PC: One hundred and thirty. One hundred and twenty here in Denver, we have 10 in Cambridge in the United Kingdom that work for our European operations, and then one in Tokyo, Japan, where we have a site. We also run the sites globally for Tumi.
CS: When was the company established? When did you begin mailing catalogs?
PC: We formed the company May of 1998, launched the site March of 1999, started doing catalogs around 2002.
CS: What were the deciding factors for eBags to begin mailing catalogs?
PC: Every distribution channel, retail channel, has its obstacles. And one of them with a Web site is it’s really kind of faced with something that’s similar to a brick-and-mortar store, in that you have a certain limited window space. Coupled with that is the fact that now more than 50 percent of our traffic goes right into a specific category. Let’s just say if they come in from a keyword, a Google keyword. They keyword wallets or mens’ wallets or kids’ backpacks or Nike duffel. The way the Internet works now, it takes them right to Nike duffel.
When you’ve got 520 brands, 36,000 products, there’s people coming to our site that may not even know that we have Tumi luggage or Michael Kors handbags or other products. So we felt like the catalog was a great way to show people the breadth of our assortment. That’s really why we started it — to show them, and also to display the fact that we’re getting probably 20 to 40 [new] brands every quarter. It’s a nice way to show new brands that are coming onto the Web site.
CS: Was this your first venture into the catalog business?
PC: I’d done direct mail in the past; I ran the marketing for Samsonite. We’d done some direct mail, but this was really more from a consumer catalog, this was the first time.