BOO LINKS WEB SITE TO CATALOG

Byline: Valerie Seckler

NEW YORK — Boo.com is angling for a toehold in the real world.
The multinational e-tailer of streetwear and activewear with an edge said Monday it had begun mailing a print catalog called boo.com for this spring-summer selling season.
The Internet retailer is distributing about 50,000 of the books, said Rob Talbot, director of marketing at boo.com, in a bid to convey its merchandising message to vendors and to promote the Web site off line among consumers who have visited it. The catalog, which features 33 products on 44 color pages, is targeted at consumers in the 15 countries where boo.com is live online, and at vendors at various Internet and fashion industry events.
“It is a small test, to measure the catalog’s impact on people who have shopped the site, to see how much incremental sales lift we could get,” Talbot noted, “and is a means to extend the brand to potential vendors, to show them boo.com’s personality.”
Asked if subsequent boo.com catalogs are in the offing, Talbot said, “We’ll have to see first about the impact on sales. It is possible that fall and winter catalogs would follow.”
After a highly anticipated launch last November, accompanied by much media fanfare, Boo has struggled to overcome a raft of problems encountered by the site’s users, ranging from long download times to difficulties navigating the shopping area and e-zine, boom.
In early March, Boo launched a “simple version” of its site — without some shopping tools carried on the “full version,” such as spin and zoom technologies — to make the Web destination accessible more quickly to users with less than a 56K modem.
“The technological issues we’ve had are improving; the site’s functionality is getting faster,” Talbot said.
The catalog’s launch marks the cyber-seller’s latest effort to pump up its image — and top line.
The Boo book highlights merchandise ranging from classic sport labels, such as Converse, New Balance and Puma, to authentic outdoor brands like Helly Hansen and The North Face, and fashion labels with a technical edge, including Maharishi and Final Home. A toll-free number and e-mail address connecting users to the boocrew, boo.com’s contact center, are included in the spring catalog, so readers can place orders. Some items currently offered in the catalog are not yet online, but, according to Talbot, they will be added to the boo.com site throughout the season.
“We want to give our customers an opportunity to experience the boo.com brand in more ways than one, so we decided to create a catalog, and then give it a modern twist,” Talbot stated.
“The look book extends the boo.com brand from the virtual world to the real world, with the ultimate objective of encouraging customers to visit our site.”