TECH TALK

NAME GAME: A new study on Internet apparel shopping found that name recognition has the greatest influence on whether customers shop at a particular site. Of the 3,037 people surveyed by consulting firm PC Data, 15 percent said that familiarity with a retail name is the number-one reason they decide which online clothing sites to visit.
The second most important factor is whether they’ve had a previous favorable shopping experience with the retailer.
Other factors that contribute to a consumer’s decision to visit a particular site for apparel are low prices, recommendations from friends, online ads, radio or TV commercials, and print ads or billboards featuring the web address. “In order to maximize sales for the Christmas season, retailers should emphasize their brand name, plain and simple,” said Sean Wargo, Internet research analyst at PC Data, Reston, Va.

CAT’S PAJAMAS: PetsMart.com, based in Pasadena, Calif., announced an exclusive marketing agreement last week with apparel retailer Big Dog Holdings, Santa Barbara, Calif. The deal calls for each company to take equity interests in the other and cooperative marketing. The size of the investments were not disclosed.
Cooperative marketing efforts will include advertising, direct mailings and sponsorship of each other’s web sites, PetsMart.com and Bigdogs.com. Big Dogs will promote PetsMart.com in its 182 retail stores, in its catalogs and to members of its loyalty program, the Big Dog Club. PetsMart.com will host the Big Dog Boutique on its site, featuring more than 10,000 items of the most popular Big Dogs merchandise as well as content supplied by the manufacturer.
The companies will also participate in off-line, promotional events, such as Big Dog’s Parades, Dog Walks and Barks in the Park.
“Big Dogs is a fun, recognizable brand with distinctive, high quality merchandise,” said Tom McGovern, president and chief executive of PetsMart.com, in a statement. “The partnership allows us to market to the millions of loyal Big Dogs customers, of which over 80 percent are fanatical pet owners.” Big Dogs’ product offerings include activewear, casual sportswear, accessories and gifts.

SYSTEM ALERT: A preview of the problems that could take place on Jan. 1, 2000 could occur Thursday, due to a programming convention that reads four nines as an “end of file” marker. If a system misreads the date, 9/9/99, as four nines, affected computers could stop processing data or trigger a grand total or sorting operation, according to software consultants.
The glitch could figure in applications written in older computer languages such as FORTRAN, COBOL and RPG. While the prospect of widespread problems on Sept. 9 is unlikely, the Washington-based International Y2K Cooperation Center is using the date to test the reporting system it will use to monitor the actual millennium rollover at the end of the year. The system, to be updated in real time on the center’s web site, iy2kcc.org, will ultimately reflect the input of 170 or more national Y2K coordinators.

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