DIGGING FOR THE GOLD IN GERMANY

Byline: Melissa Drier

BERLIN — Germany’s newest internet shopping portal, Goldguide.de, is a multi-media operation.
A magazine, also called Goldguide.de, will hit the German newsstands March 23, the same day the portal makes its debut in cyberspace. The print and cyber Goldguides are a project of PopNet CrossMedia GmbH, a division of the publicly traded PopNet Internet AG of Hamburg.
This month, the German catalog house Otto Versand took a 24.9 percent stake in PopNet CrossMedia as part of Otto’s strategy to further build up its e-commerce business. Once the 1999 totals are in, Otto expects its online turnover, including its Teleshopping CD-Rom, to have hit more than $50 million. It is one of Germany’s leading e-tailers.
In addition to presenting its catalogs on the internet, Otto opened one of Germany’s largest online shopping malls, Shopping24.de, in 1997, offering the products and services of what has grown into a group of 23 companies. The catalog giant is also interested in getting involved with young Internet companies, according to a spokeswoman. It’s a way of “combining the know-how and ideas of young companies with the experience of Otto Versand. A good example is our involvement with PopNet CrossMedia,” she said.
“Gold is an interesting concept and helpful for users who aren’t that familiar with the Internet,” she added. “The user easily gets contact with other users and other companies, and that’s what today’s consumers want.”
PopNet’s Goldguide, however, will retain its full independence from Otto, said a PopNet CrossMedia spokeswoman.
This year, PopNet CrossMedia is projecting sales of about $16.8 million and a loss of $8.4 million. In 2001, losses are expected to be trimmed to about $2.3 million on sales of $26 million. All dollar figures are based on the current exchange rate.
Both the Goldguide magazine and Web site carry the subtitle “Better Living with the Internet.” Indeed, the goal of both entities is to better orient cybershoppers as they navigate the Net. PopNet sees Goldguide magazine as a “connecting medium” that can help take the fear out of virtual shopping. Both print and portal are meant to function as online shopping guides, and while each reinforces the content of the other, they can also be used independently.
The German-language magazine, priced about $1.35, will have an initial circulation of 600,000, and will be published every two weeks. The magazine is broken into editorial and shopping guide sections. In its debut issue, the editorial section will address “Stress on the Net.” The shopping guide includes the following categories: leisure, fitness, mobility (autos), taste (cooking), living, style (fashion and beauty), money, communication, entertainment (TV, music, film) and erotica.
In the first edition’s leisure section, for example, there’ll be a focus on last minute trips, plus a feature about lottery winners, the PopNet spokeswoman said. In style, Gold looks at fashion in the style of master thief Thomas Crown, and introduces readers to the Thomascrown.de Web site as well as shops in the Internet that cater to this look. Other fashion topics include spring underwear and cellular phone bags.
The beauty segment asks what can cosmetics do to make people happy, and presents a variety of beauty Web sites, including Steinerleisure.com, Vesrocher.de, Lush.uk, Ccbparis.com and Beautynet.de.

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