BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS WEB SITE LAUNCHED BY DONEGER GROUP

Byline: Valerie Seckler

NEW YORK — Aiming at a business-to-business Internet market expected to exceed consumer e-commerce by a ratio of 9-to-1 by 2003, Doneger Group today is opening the Doneger Online Fashion Showrooms, and relaunching nine-month-old doneger.com.
“Forrester Group, an Internet research firm, is projecting the business-to-business e-commerce channel will grow from $48 billion in 1998 to $1.3 trillion in 2004,” said Abbey Doneger, president of Doneger Group, during a tour Friday of the virtual showrooms and redesigned corporate site.
“Therefore, it is our objective to stay focused on business-to-business for now,” Doneger said. “Our concept is to use the Internet to enhance our overall offering. I don’t know that we will ever be an e-corp. This is a way to reinforce our positioning as a leading network of fashion resources.”
Users enter the virtual showrooms via doneger.com, a site that also provides the buying group’s clients with market research on merchandise and lifestyle trends. These showrooms are one of four entry points on the home page of doneger.com; there are gateways for the group’s retail and vendor clients, guests and the press, a new portal on the site.
Doneger tested the online showrooms with 17 resources, including such names as Halmode and Donkenny, and begins renting showroom space today. Virtual leases are priced on a tiered schedule that starts at $10,000 a year.
Retailers who are not Doneger members can visit the showrooms, free of charge, as guests of a manufacturer that is a member, but they do not have access to the trend news and other fashion information available throughout the site.
The virtual showrooms offer a search engine that can find items by a broad category, such as women’s or petites, and also by narrower parameters, such as color. As a result, the feature can quickly expose retailers to brands and merchandise they would not necessarily see on a buying trip to a finite number of showrooms.
“This gives us a way to grow our business,” Doneger concluded, “while helping medium-size companies that cannot afford to do this on their own.”

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