Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

West Marine will open the biggest store in the company's history, a 50,000-sq.-ft flagship in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Due to open by the end of the year, the store will be twice as big as the company's current largest location and will be focused on serving both local and seasonal boating customers.

While our ranking of the fastest-growing cross-channel retailers features some of the biggest players in the industry, Retail Online Integration is well aware that there are thousands of other private retailers out there making their own strides. As a result, our staff selected five exceptional private retailers to highlight.

We’re reading a lot these days about the poor state of the economy and the likelihood of a recession. I think most of us believe that if we’re not already in recession, we’re darn close! So, what steps can you take to try to recession-proof your B-to-B direct marketing operation?
First, let me say that business cycles, particularly down cycles, are not all bad. During the good times, our businesses can get a little “bloated.” In the bad times, we need to cleanse.
Here are some tips to help your company survive these difficult times.
1. Gather your management team together. Brainstorm on how

I’m often asked these days, “What’s the ideal organizational structure for the online marketing function?” Most of you struggle to determine what functions are significant and need full-time attention. While there’s no “right answer” that fits all organizations, here are some key online functions that need consideration.
1. Online merchandisers.
Similar to their offline counterparts, their function is to develop a deep understanding of the product line, regardless of such factors as seasonality or demographic. They maintain strong vendor relationships and keep abreast of new product introductions. They also work closely with the taxonomy researchers, item content and creative staffs to deliver timely page

Many B-to-B catalogers are looking for ways to increase their online businesses. Most are currently spending significantly on some form of paid online advertising, improving their organic search efforts and improving their conversions of site visits to orders.
Another idea you might want to consider is starting a new company online. If you believe every successful endeavor starts with a consideration of your potential market and products, consider examining the following points.
* Take a look at your 10 best-selling products and ask yourself, “Could any of these become a stand-alone business?” Examine how your products might serve a new market if they

Recently, I found myself in the middle of a discussion about how long it took to actually place an order on a particular cataloger’s Web site. Granted, this particular company admits it’s not on the cutting edge of online selling. But the result was an eye-opener. Knowing the product number, it still took me 22 clicks to buy an item on its Web site. Would anyone really put up with that? It actually surprised me how many customers did.
We, of course, began a search of this company’s competitors’ sites and found the same product could be ordered with far fewer clicks in

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