January 10, 2007, 12:00 AM

Drs. Foster & Smith gallops into a new web category

In February, Drs. Foster & Smith will introduce a new merchandising category that will sell joint supplements, grooming supplies, digestive aids, and nutritional supplements to horse owners. Also in the works is a bigger affiliate network.

Drs. Foster & Smith Inc. will spend 2007 expanding into new categories, adding more computing horsepower and growing the company’s fledgling affiliate program, says Internet marketing and analysis manager Gordon Magee.

In February, Drs. Foster & Smith will introduce a new merchandising category that will sell joint supplements, grooming supplies, digestive aids, nutritional supplements, halters and leads, hoof care, insect control, saddle pads, medical supplies, stable supplies, toys, training aids, treats, wormers, vitamins/mineral supplements and vaccines to horse owners. Prescription equine medications also will be available at Drs. Foster & Smith`s online pharmacy. “This is a good crossover category for us,” says Magee. “One of the priorities this year is expanding vertically into similar categories.”

To attract and retain more customers, Drs. Foster & Smith, No. 83 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites, also will expand its fledging affiliate marketing program, which launched in August, to more than 1,800 affiliates. And the company will add more servers to power its various web sites, including DrsFosterSmith.com and LiveAquaria.com. “We are going to build out the back end to support the increased traffic we are getting and the increased marketing we are conducting,” says Magee, who will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, June 4-7 in San Jose in a session entitled New Age Marketing Tools: Is Today`s Hype Tomorrow`s Help? .

For 2006, Drs. Foster & Smith is reporting a 16% increase in web sales to $133 million from $115 million in 2005. Overall the web now represents 58% of total sales. “We had a very good year in 2006,” Magee says. “We were right on the targets we wanted to hit.”

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