February 8, 2001, 12:00 AM

Keeping abreast of the evolution

Good business magazines evolve. That’s because the industries they cover evolve. As our readers know, Internet Retailer is rapidly changing to keep pace with the leading edge of a very dynamic Internet retailing phenomenon.

When launched in March 1999, Internet Retailer understandably was captivated by the pure-play dot-coms that were vowing to change forevermore the retailing landscape. We profiled the leaders of these new businesses, outlined their ambitious marketing strategies, and reported their lofty growth targets. Very soon, however, we started changing our focus. Within months of the premier issue, before the fulfillment debacle of last Christmas, we began reporting that the new Internet merchants needed to concentrate more resources on the more prosaic operational challenges of fulfilling their growing number of orders and servicing their burgeoning customer ranks. The e-world dreamers had a real-world wake-up call, and suddenly it was they who had to change-and learn from more experienced merchants who long ago mastered supply chain fundamentals.

Yet even as the dot-coms were falling from grace on Wall Street and web merchandising was blackened by the broad brush of negative press created by the collapse of a few overly exposed pure plays, our coverage began changing again-toward the web sites of the retail chains and catalogers who were now leveraging their traditional fulfillment expertise with a newfound respect for the power of the web. More recently, we have modified our coverage of Internet retailing once more as we look beyond web merchandising itself. Today, our editorial content is influenced by a growing realization that the Internet is changing not only the front end of retailing, but the back end as well. We increasingly report how the web is a tool that can help retail chains enhance store operations and service, automate supply chain management and improve procurement efficiency.

We continue to believe that Internet retailing is the new retailing. But it doesn’t replace the old; it modernizes it. It doesn’t eliminate the supply chain; it automates it. It doesn’t make catalogs obsolete; it puts them on-line. And it doesn’t threaten other sales channels; it integrates them into a single powerful system.

This understanding of the web’s impact on retailing is the philosophy guiding the editorial development of Internet Retailer. It is also modifying and expanding our subscriber base. Look closely at our masthead opposite this letter, and you will see the latest evidence of our evolution-the logo signifying our membership in the Business Publishers Association, the organization that audits magazine circulation. Last month, we proudly distributed our first BPA circulation statement. It reveals that fully 58% of our 33,000 qualified subscribers come from retail chains, while another 25% are from the catalog/direct merchant industry. Only 5% of our subscribers come from the virtual merchandising world-dot-coms that have neither stores nor catalogs. While some pure-plays still lead this business, our subscriber base reflects how Internet retailing impacts all of retailing and how the Internet has become a fundamental tool for all merchants. It also reflects how Internet Retailer has evolved. Our editorial coverage is broader, because the Internet is penetrating all segments of retailing. Our goal is evolving too. Simply put, we want to be the leading source of industry information for all merchants.

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