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The Right Start Inc. Offers Back-to-School Basics for E-tailers

LOS ANGELES, Sep 2, 1999 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- As more and more brick-and-mortar merchants go online, e-commerce retailers may want to take a lesson from their counterparts in the physical world to better compete in the marketplace, according to Jerry Welch, chief executive officer of The Right Start Inc., the leading national retailer of child safety and development products.

"The Internet has become a very powerful purchasing and distribution tool," said Welch, "but dot.com alone does not equal automatic revenue. Without customer service and an established and trusted brand, an e-commerce site will be little more than a flash-in-the-pan."

So what can brick and mortars teach the new e-commerce class of 2000?

Marketing 101

Regardless if they are online or on the corner, retailers should market like retailers. Beyond portal presence and banners, retailers should take advantage of every opportunity to market their sites to customers.

Visitors to The Right Start stores are greeted with extensive store signage and hanging banners, shopping bags and catalogues advertising the Rightstart.com name, while Right Start employees are encouraged to promote the site among customers by offering discount coupons for online purchases.

Other retailers like the Gap feature electronic kiosks to allow visitors to shop online for Gap products. Some traditional retailers may fear this cannibalization of their markets, but as Barnes & Noble soon discovered, this is a crucial marketing edge over a competitor like Amazon.com.

Do Your Homework and Know Your Customer

The Right Start launched its Web site to further enhance its customer service to a demanding consumer base -- new parents with high standards and daily questions. By providing detailed product information and reviews, expert child rearing advice and online customer service, Rightstart.com has fashioned its business around the needs of its customers.

In this shop-click-shop world, customers expect A+ service. Anything less and they will shop at a competitor's site, warns Welch.

Avoid Peer Pressure

Running with the pack, at the expense of your brand, may lead you right out of the retail game as well, according to Welch. Rightstart.com was launched with a keen awareness of its customers' expectations of The Right Start brand.

While shipping and handling fees are de rigueur for most e-commerce sites, The Right Start chose to eschew the added expense to its customers. Instead, the site offers free shipping and handling, free gift wrapping and same day shipment of orders.

Physical Education

Major retailers, including Sears, Macy's and the aforementioned Barnes & Noble, are leveraging their physical assets to better compete in the consumer market. Far from denying their physical ties, these retailers are building on their brick-and-mortar beginnings to fuel their e-commerce sites that in turn strengthen their retail stores.

Since establishing its catalogue business in 1985, The Right Start has fostered strong ties among its manufacturers, suppliers and retail sales force -- all which provide a key selling advantage of convenience and efficiency for Right Start customers.

About The Right Start

The Right Start is a leading retailer of unique, high-quality products for infants and young children up to age four. In addition to products, Rightstart.com features expert advice from accomplished child psychologists and pediatricians, a forum for parents to exchange child-rearing information and Rightstart.com product reviews.

Copyright (C) 1999 Business Wire. All rights reserved. -0- CONTACT: Casey Sayre & Williams Inc., Santa Monica, Calif. 310/458-1224 Tracy Olmstead Williams, Twil[email protected] Lori Putnam, [email protected]

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