November 30, 2007, 12:00 AM

Food/Drug These retailers know how to sort things out

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"Their web site is very efficient," says Jim Okamura, senior partner with J.C. Williams Group Ltd. "Over time we`ve seen really expand their offerings."

The site is chockfull of tabs on its home page, ranging from prescriptions to photo and electronics, from food and gourmet to sexual well being, from toys and games to vitamins.

When customers visit one department, the tabs of other departments accompany them. "Through our imagery and presentation, we`re trying to expose you to new products and offer an easier way to find them," says Lonczak., based in Bellevue, Wash., also offers holiday items like gift bags and promotes products on a seasonal basis. "They have to do a good job at cross-selling to increase the typical sales order," says Okamura. "Their gift bags are a clever way to mix and match different items." Back to Top

Cooking good has risen like a soufflé over the last few years as it has worked to distinguish itself as a unique but related entity from the Food Network television colossus and the show`s web site,

Make no mistake about it, the FoodNetwork connection is still there. Tabs on the home page beckon visitors to shop for products, cookbooks and food not only by brand and category, but also through pages devoted to the TV network`s wide collection of shows and its stable of popular hosts.

A remake of the web site this fall, however, helped establish the site as great destination of its own for shoppers of kitchen and cookware and gourmet foods. Designed by, the relaunch catapulted from a pretty basic "plug and play" template to an attractive, easy-to-navigate site that has added brands and gourmet food to its menu of products.

"We built a custom design," says Lia Buffa, director of new business and e-commerce for New York-based Food Network. "It`s easy to navigate, and it`s easier to make updates and changes. We can evaluate what`s working and make changes accordingly."

The site turned to Endeca Technologies Inc. to help shoppers narrow their searches for the products they are seeking.

The objective of the site improvements was to expand the inventory of products, at least in part to attract people from who wanted more than just recipes and cooking tips. now sells more than 20,000 items. "We wanted to provide our customers with the chance to get anything they would want and need," says Buffa.

Soon the site will add videos to help customers learn what products are for and how to use them.

Despite the site`s growing autonomy, however, it still benefits from the ties with all the partners in the Food Network nexus.

"They`ve done quite a nice job of integrating their shows and their personalities," says Jim Okamura, senior partner with J.C. Williams Group Ltd., a retail consulting firm. "The store itself represents the brand very well." Back to Top

A mouth-watering site
Gourmets will be the first to admit that food is as much about presentation as it is taste. Create a mouth-watering presentation and consumers will want more, especially when they are shopping for food items. sets the gold standard for presentation. In addition to rich, inviting photos of it products, the Medford, Ore.-based retailer enhances presentation with a zoom feature that magnifies sections of items displayed. Shoppers can use it to inspect the quality of its gourmet fruit, chocolates and baked goods. Videos that show how chocolates and baked goods and gift baskets are prepared and packed further titillate the senses. The site is designed to work at 800×600 screen resolution to accommodate shoppers with older computers.

"The mouth-watering product photography really makes you hungry," says Mark Lee, founder of The Mark Lee Group, a Charlottesville, Va.-based retail consulting firm.

As shoppers are pulled deeper into the site through the luscious photography and videos, the retailer employs subtle marketing strategies, such as detailed descriptions of how gift baskets are shipped. The site overcomes objections to shipping fruit across state lines with such statements as: "Our gifts are trucked under controlled temperatures to a major city near their destination, where they`re released to delivery services for final delivery."

As concerns over maintaining the quality of the item during shipping are overcome, consumers become more comfortable with the idea of adding to their purchase. "At each stage of the buying process, Harry & David attempts to get the shopper to add to their order, even during checkout," says Lee. "That`s great marketing."

Site navigation is made easy through use of a seasonal gift guide that allows shoppers to search for gifts by occasion, personality or price. Within the gift guide is a gift finder that allows shoppers to narrow their search by occasion, price, type of gift desired or type of recipient, such as business associate, flower lover, sweet tooth or grill master.

With such attention to detail is a site that presents food at its best. Back to Top

Up from the cellar
With its roots in the wine business going back more than 30 years, K&L; Wine Merchants has long-established connections with wineries around the world. Its team of 12 wine buyers constantly acquires unusual vintages as well as large stocks of the most popular wines. "We`re passionate about wine and sell a lot of well-known wines, but we also focus on things that are rare and unique," says Brian Zucker, co-owner and head of marketing. "We have a lot of long-term relationships with customers who trust our recommendations."
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