Williams-Sonoma and CondéNet's Epicurious.com Announce Ground Breaking E-commerce Alliance
New York, NY (June 16, 1999) --- Williams-Sonoma (NYSE: WSM), the country's premier home-centered specialty retailer, and Epicurious.com, the most-visited food destination online and the home of Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines, today announced a major alliance to integrate Williams-Sonoma e-commerce capability into Epicurious.
The online alliance is groundbreaking in that it represents an e-commerce relationship far deeper than the current affiliate and anchor deals frequently found online. By linking the proven content of Epicurious to Williams-Sonoma e-commerce, consumers will be provided with a new level of convenience and service that is unique to the Internet. Customers have one-click access to Williams-Sonoma products related to Epicurious content and recipes.
"We are thrilled with the possibilities this new alliance with CondéNet provides," said Pat Connolly, executive vice president and general manager of Williams-Sonoma's catalog division. "Our goal is to offer the ultimate in customer service. Our alliance with Epicurious not only provides cooking enthusiasts access to excellent content but directs them to the best cooking and casual entertaining merchandise as well. We view this as the first step in a larger relationship with CondéNet."
For Williams-Sonoma, this pact is an important step in their rapidly evolving online presence, which began last week with the launch of their bridal and gift registry web site, www.wswedding.com. Wswedding.com is Williams-Sonoma's debut of an e-commerce enabled web presence and the most comprehensive bridal registry available. The site is unique because it is totally integrated with the retail and catalog channels. Status of the bride's registry is instantaneously updated across all three channels and gift purchasers are accurately informed online of item availability. All orders are gift-wrapped and shipped via Federal Express within 24 hours from the company's catalog fulfillment center.
For CondéNet, and for its affiliated magazine company Condé Nast, this is the first of several major announcements fulfilling the strategy of linking the power of its best-of-breed content with e-commerce.
"Condé Nast and CondéNet are in the business of creating demand. Now we can help our consumers satisfy that demand, thanks to this alliance between Williams-Sonoma and Epicurious. In the coming months, we will be executing this strategy of closing the loop for consumers-from creating demand to fulfilling demand-with an integration of content and commerce in all areas where we serve our high-demographic, largely female audience," said CondéNet Director Sarah Chubb.
The e-commerce integration will be unveiled on Epicurious.com this fall. On the Epicurious site, Williams-Sonoma will handle all merchandising, fulfillment and commerce customer service, while CondéNet retains control over all content. The companies will split revenues received from joint sales but released no further details of the business arrangement.
Joan Feeney, Editorial Director at CondéNet and the founder of Epicurious, said the goal of the alliance is to give Epicurious readers a complete service, " Our audience is passionate about food and cooking and our internal surveys indicate that our customers will welcome the convenience of the shopping experience we are creating with Williams-Sonoma," she said. " We will be scrupulous about maintaining the editorial integrity and independence of the content from our magazines and carefully labeling all business relationships. But we are also excited about the technology we are creating to match context with commerce."
Feeney said that Epicurious learned the lesson of the value of partnering with an industry leader last year when it launched the Epicurious television show with the Discovery Channel. That show, one of the first to fully integrate a Web site and a television program, became the second highest rated cooking show on cable television in its first season, and gave the Web site a huge audience boost.
It was also announced recently that CondéNet and Condé Nast would join Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc., and Time Inc., in launching a far-reaching women's cable and web network in early 2000.
CondéNet has pioneered the concept of using magazine brands and content as a springboard to build unique and independent online services, brands, communities, attracting large, upscale, and loyal audiences not only in its food site, Epicurious.com, but also at its other sites: Epicurious Travel, Swoon and Phys. "Traffic at Epicurious.com is up 82 percent over last year but the more telling statistics demonstrating our readers' loyalty are that 86 percent of our visitors have bookmarked the site and they return to Epicurious.com 10 times each month with visits lasting more than 32 minutes. That is an astounding example of our services' "stickiness", says Feeney.
Epicurious incorporates nearly 10,000 recipes from the premier brands in food journalism, Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines, as well as feature material from the magazines and a wealth of content from the audience: more than 100,000 postings to what has been labeled the world's largest community cookbook. In addition more than 65,000 people have registered to establish personalized recipe boxes on the site.
Williams-Sonoma, Inc. is the leading home-centered specialty retailer in the United States. Its professional quality and distinctive products for all rooms of the home are marketed through more than 300 retail stores, five mail order catalogs (Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Hold Everything and Chambers) and www.wswedding.com a bridal registry website. The company is headquartered in San Francisco. For more information log-on to www.williamssonomainc.com.
Condé Net is an Internet unit of Condé Nast. CondéNet was launched in May 1995 to develop dynamic, interactive sites on the World Wide Web. CondéNet's Epicurious Food (www.food.Epicurious.com), Epicurious Travel (www.travel.Epicurious.com), PHYS (www.phys.com) and Swoon (www.swoon.com) have attracted the highest demographic quality women of any comparable Web site(s).