A Chat With October’s Profile, Peter Cobb, co-founder/senior vice president, eBags
CS: Did this relationship with Shoes.com begin this year with your back-to-school catalog?
PC: We actually did it last year, in 2007.
CS: What about the catalog/multichannel industry appeals most to you?
PC: I love the fact that you can … this skips back again to the fact that at eBags.com we have 36,000 products, 520 brands. I think in the bag world, people know a few of the brands, but cannot imagine how you can even have 520 brands. What I enjoy is the fact that people will get a catalog and page through, or visit on the Internet, and over-and-over be surprised and delighted with “Isn’t that cute” and “That’s cool, I’ve never heard of this brand.” And in this world of ours, if you go to a brick-and-mortar store, for instance that sells luggage, it’s a sea of black. The ability of the Internet and the catalog allows you to display different colors, different prints, Disney character products, on and on and on. And all of sudden it turns a product which maybe some people would consider utilitarian into something that’s more of a style or fashion purchase.
It’s always been like that for handbags — well, I won’t say always, but the last 10 years. Definitely the inventory of products that women have has grown incrementally, but now that’s moved out into the luggage world, into backpacks, into duffels, where people maybe don’t buy additional pieces because they’re worn out, they buy it because they’re either bored or it’s out of fashion. That’s something that’s been very rewarding for us. When we started the company in 1998, we believed in this phenomenon. You know, you saw it happening in things like tennis shoes. When I was a kid, I had one pair of tennis shoes. Then Nike came out and said, “No, you got to have cross-training shoes and you have to have basketball shoes and you have to have running shoes, and all of a sudden I had eight pairs of tennis shoes in my closet. That’s really happening across the board and we really love playing a part of that in the bag world. There’s women that have 20, 30, 40 different handbags because they want to match it with certain outfits or wear it for a certain season.