April 7, 2011, 1:33 PM

E-retailer Tabcom boosts revenue and attracts new customers with targeted ads

The operator of niche e-commerce sites, including Dog.com, is also launching an online pet pharmacy.

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Sales and new customer traffic are up for niche e-retailer Tabcom in the last year, thanks in part to Akamai Technologies Inc.’s predictive ad-targeting program, the retailer says.

Tabcom implemented Akamai’s Advertising Decision Solution on Dog.com and Horse.com last April and in the last few months on Stateline.com and Garden.com.  Tabcom operates about a dozen e-commerce sites and says it plans to extend the program to its other sites in the future.

“The display ads we’re generating through this relationship with Akamai are helping us overall, driving new customer acquisition,” says Ben Pfeiffer, head of e-commerce at Tabcom, No. 230 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.  “It is gross margin, ROI-positive.”   He would not provide details on sales or new customer gains.

The Akamai ad-targeting program draws on anonymous data supplied by more than 550 retailer, manufacturer, travel and telecom web sites representing $17 billion worth of quarterly transactions, says Tom Burg, head of ADS marketing at Akamai. Akamai, whose primary business is operating a server network that accelerates the delivery of web site content, compiles data about site visits, purchases and abandoned shopping carts to identify web shoppers in the market for particular products.

Akamai thus can place ads promoting Dog.com on sites visited by consumers in the market for dog supplies, for example.  That allows Tabcom to target not only a consumer who visited Dog.com, but others whose behavior suggests they are in the market for such products.

Also, over the next two months Tabcom plans to launch pet pharmacies on Dog.com and Horse.com where shoppers can fill prescriptions. A customer will be able to enter information on his pets and their prescriptions, and the retailer will follow up with the consumer’s veterinarian and fulfill orders.

Pfeiffer says the idea mostly came from customers, who needed a convenient option for filling their pets’ prescriptions.  “This is a huge part of what pet owners and horse owners deal with every day,” he says. “We can provide a very convenient experience to source your meds in a safe way by facilitating the interaction with the vet through our web site.”

Additionally, the retailer has begun shipping pet supplies to shelters around the country as part of its Dog.com to the Rescue program.  Tabcom donates 10% of proceeds from sales of its Dog.com to the Rescue products on Dog.com to purchase toys and beds for shelter animals, Pfeifer says. So far, the retailer has sent shipments to at least 12 shelters, including one delivery of over $1,000 worth of supplies.

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