Opportunity in the Wings
When the U.S. Census Bureau released its 2001 E-Stats report earlier this year, publishing represented 12 percent of the $25 billion e-commerce revenue generated by the service sector, placing publishing third, only behind travel services and brokerages.
For publishers looking to gain their share of e-commerce and wanting to implement online technology, Jupiter Research advises:
-Do not shortchange planning, design and testing
-Leverage commerce packages and upgrades
-Rely on package vendors to incorporate desired features
With its 107 journals and magazines, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) produces 30 percent of the world's published literature on electrical engineering, computing and control technology. So when they began undertaking online initiatives in 1999 for their more than 360,000 members, they sought an e-commerce partner that understood the complexities of scientific and technical publishing.
And they found one.
They chose software provider eMeta Corporation to develop the infrastructure for the IEEE's electronic publishing initiatives. The resulting software allows IEEE to manage varying types of users, including IEEE members vs. non-members, libraries, corporation, and universities, as well as licenses. Meanwhile, users can access IEEE subscriptions—both individual and corporate—and choose to pay per view among 670,000 documents or order standards, journals, periodicals and conference proceedings. But for all of the challenges met by the software, only a point-and-click interface shows to both the consumer and IEEE personnel. Reporting tools built into the software also allow the IEEE to gauge the results for their efforts.
The IEEE site has grown dramatically in terms of usage since it launched in March 2000 calling for infrastructure upgrades to an Oracle database to support the traffic. "There were a few days that it was a little unnerving," says Scott MacFarland, director of publishing business development for IEEE. "But today, electronic publishing is the fastest growing part of IEEE business, and it account for a substantial and growing part of IEEE revenue."
Defying common knowledge that says ROI takes a backseat to e-business strategy, IEEE's commerce revenue has more than quintupled on an annual basis since IEEE rolled out its first electronic product (a CD-ROM) about six years ago.
Yet, publishers like the IEEE take a broad view of e-commerce, using e-business (sales, marketing, purchasing, human resources, procurement and supply-chain management) and e-commerce (customer-facing Web sites, personalized digital marketing campaigns and capturing/possessing sales orders) interchangeably. In addition to selling its content and subscriptions online, the IEEE enriches the online experience for its members by engaging partners including ITN.com to book travel for industry conferences, FatBrain.com to provide an industry bookstore and Hire.com for industry-related jobs. Each partner has customized these sites to integrate seamlessly with IEEE's site. IEEE negotiated unique business models for each partner. For instance, FatBrain.com and Hire.com are both revenue-sharing engagements.
The Manufacturing and Electronics division at Cahners Business Information also has taken an alternative approach to e-commerce. In September 1999, Cahners purchased a 15 percent equity stake in PartMiner, which provides marketplace technology and procurement services to the global electronic components industry. PartMiner's online marketplace. Free Trade Zone, allows users to research, source and purchase electronic components online.
As part of the terms of the Cahners' agreement, PartMiner became the exclusive e-commerce provider of electronic components to the electronic original equipment manufacturer (EOEM) market on e-inSITE, Cahners' portal for the EOEM market. PartMiner's targeted commerce services are now embedded in e-inSITE content to help customers speed their time to purchase. In October 2000, Cahners invested its third round of funding in PartMiner.
"We tracked PartMiner for a year as a leader in the electronic components marketplace, and their performance confirmed our earlier decision to invest in PartMiner," says Brian Nairn, president and COO of Cahners. "PartMiner had the right revenue model and partnerships to automate and add value to the electronics components supply chain."
Cahners research reveals that the average number of projects that an engineer works on in one year increased from 9.3 in 1995 to 16.6 in 1998. During the same period, the average time spent per project decreased from 12 to eight months.
With the tremendous pressure placed on today's electronic knowledge professionals as design cycles shrink and the number of projects increase, pulling the Free Trade Zone into e-inSITE couldn't have made more sense. The move enriches the user's experience at key points while simultaneously and measurably benefiting Cahners.
e-inSITE combines the resources of 17 publications, original editorial content, five market research units and strategic technology and content partners.
Online Subscription Service Bonuses
For publishers who prefer to outsource or supplement online subscription access, independent Web-based agents service both consumer and business markets. These independent agents provide subscribers with secure safe sites where they can subscribe, renew and manage their subscriptions.
uSubscribe.com, Magazines.com and SubscriberCentral.com hold direct publisher authorizations for every magazine title they offer. Orders are transmitted directly to the publishers. All agents, in turn, offer ongoing customer relationship management, including the basics—renewel notices, promotions and payment requests. Yet, each offers its own additional set of tools.
Founded in 1998, New York City-based uSubscribe.com offers more than 1,200 titles, provides business accounts for purchases exceeding $1,500 and will set-up purchasing Intranets for larger accounts. For highly trafficked sites with unsold advertising inventory, uSubscribe.com's syndicated e-Commerce program facilitates private label stores.
Magazines.com began just outside of Nashville more than 11 years ago. To date, with 200 employees and more than 1,350 titles, it claims to be among the nation's largest subscription processing facilities. The Gift Center at Magazines.com provides one-click access to periodicals organized by interest, such as parenting, travel and home improvement. Magazines.com sends an announcement to let recipients know a subscription will be arriving soon. Gifts certificates are a recent addition to the site. The company participates in the LifeShare Network sales affiliate program.
Catering to the requirements of trade publications, many distributed by controlled circulation, SubscriberCentral.com of California quickly and easily qualifies readers through a user profile. Once subscribers have registered their profile, they can access relevant publications, as well as industry news and details about upcoming trade shows.
Subscribers still maintain the flexibility of bill-me-later or pay-by-mail if they choose. All three services provide full refunds. Currently, most subscription services only handle domestic subscriptions, however, international fulfillment was only a few weeks away at press time.
-Marie Tupot Stock