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Magazine praises Harry and David site

Bear Creek Corp.?s Harry and David has been dubbed one of the companies that know what works on the Web by eCompany Now, a leading national e-commerce magazine.

The Medford gift company is one of 11 companies that make money on the Web featured in the magazine's August issue, which hit newsstands Monday.

It continues to reinforce our image as the paramount leader when it comes to e-shopping for food gifts and related items, says company spokesman Bill Ihle.

Between its Harry and David, Jackson & Perkins and Northwest Express Web sites, Bear Creek did more than $25 million in Internet sales in 1999 and projects that number will grow to $190 million annually in five years. The company is tight-lipped about profits but says its e-commerce venture is in the black.

This spring, Bear Creek created a division to explore Internet opportunities. The company is still searching for the right person to lead the division and is interviewing finalists, says company president Bill Williams.

Competition for e-commerce talent is intense. However, Williams says Bear Creek has been helped by a recent downturn in Internet stocks and is attractive to those who prefer to work at an established company rather than a start-up.

The eCompany Now article praises the personalization features of the Harry and David site (www.harryanddavid.com). The site provides an e-mail gift reminder service, dropping customers a note as key dates approach. It tracks past purchases, including addresses of recipients.

The article notes that more than half of Harry and David's online customers are repeat customers and that the percentage of people who actually buy something is well above almost any other e-commerce site. Only 2 percent to — percent of customers on most e-commerce sites buy something, the article states; 9 percent of Harry and David Web visitors buy.

Ihle says a big component of Bear Creek's online success has been its ability to get merchandise delivered properly. Many e-commerce sites struggled to actually get merchandise to customers last holiday season. But, after 65 years in the catalog and mail-order business, fulfillment of orders is old hat for Bear Creek.

Other companies lauded for their e-commerce expertise included Consumer Reports magazine, business computer system retailer Dell Computer, power company Enron, chip maker Intel and software maker Intuit. Ihle says those are heady companions for the Medford company.