iVillage Expansion Caters to Expectant Mothers

In an effort to expand its network beyond the village’s frontiers, iVillage (Nasdaq: IVIL), one of the most popular online networks for women, is pushing the e-commerce buttons of expectant mothers.

The company announced Monday that it signed an e-commerce agreement with Dan Howard Industries to launch a new Web site at iMaternity.com. The deal with the Chicago-based manufacturer and retailer of maternity apparel, one of the largest in the country, gives iVillage a complimentary site to its existing ibaby.com site.

iVillage recently completed its acquisition of the baby-products retailer, which sells thousands of baby-related products from some 300 vendors. The company said it redesigned the site in conjunction with the launch of its maternity site so that both operate seamlessly on a “common- systems” architecture.

“Parenting is at the heart of the iVillage.com consumer experience,” said company co-founder and CEO, Candice Carpenter. “It follows that the category is central to our e-commerce model.”

Dan Howard Industries operates more than 200 stores across the U.S. Under terms of the agreement the company will promote the new site and iVillage’s baby products site in its brick and mortar stores — where some one million women a year purchase products.

A Village With Tradition

The company was founded in 1995 and gradually built up a network of 15 channels, including those devoted to health, fitness and beauty, parenting, relationships, pets and work from home, to name a few.

More recently, iVillage says its traffic increased 37% in the first quarter of 1999, to 90 million average monthly page views. Unique visitors totaled 3.9 million in March, up from 2.5 million in December. Its membership consists of 1.6 million.

The company has branding agreements with AOL, NBC, AT&T, Cox and TCI and its major sponsors include Ford Motor Media, Ralston Purina, Glaxo Wellcome, Kimberley-Clark and Amazon.com.

As with most Internet properties these days, iVillage’s revenue stream is up, but so too are its operating losses. The company reported first quarter revenues of $6.5 million (US$), up from $2.2 million for the first quarter of 1998. Net loss for the same period jumped from $8.5 million to $17.8 million.

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