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E-COMMERCE PROFILE
THEAGZONE.COM OFFERS AG E-COMMERCE
TheAgZone.com, an Internet portal for agricultural e-commerce, headquartered in the heart of Califonia's San Joaquin Valley, plans to bring the ag industry to the forefront of the e-commerce revolution by offering agribusinesses the latest technology and most efficient means of marketing their products.

TheAgZone.com brings together buyers and sellers of ag products and services, providing direct online commerce, worldwide market trends, comprehensive product information, trade policy and government regulation updates, surveys, news and financial services, all in one easy-to-use Internet portal designed specifically for agriculture.

"We offer an entire range of business services, including e-mail, Web design, trading, trading support, information, and prices to guarantee that an ag company can automate its market simply, efficiently and at the lowest cost possible," explains Dr. Joseph Penbera, founder and chairman of TheAgZone.com. "We also provide e-marketing assistance and expertise to our clients, helping them develop online markets."

On June 1, 2000 the company launched its e-commerce trading engine for live trading on the site. Since then, the number of companies signed on has almost doubled. It currently has more than 600 online storefront owners. That same week, TheAgZone.com announced the addition of former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, John Block, to its board of directors.

TheAgZone.com's e-commerce partner is Calico Commerce, Inc., San Jose, Calif., a leading eBusiness application provider. Calico's MarketMaker powers the site's e-commerce trading engine. Other major providers include Oracle and Sun Microsystems.

TheAgZone.com conducted a series of focus groups with farmers and agribusinesses to develop the portal. TheAgZone.com claims to be the only vendor-neutral, storefront/catalog-based industry model, and is the only site that does not charge mark-ups on purchases made through the site.

"Through our contacts with ag companies, from small independents and local distributors, to large manufacturers, we are finding that they are looking for solutions to handling sales and marketing in the new economy," says Bruce Colbert, vice-president of sales and marketing.

Colbert began implementation of an aggressive sales and marketing plan, which calls for more than 5,000 companies to begin selling products and services through their trading engine by the end of 2001. He believes the company will easily reach these numbers through the penetration of trade associations, and corporations.

TheAgZone.com has an exclusive partnership with the World Ag Expo - the largest trade show of its kind in the world. It also owns the largest audited database of 2.88 million ag firms in the U.S. They will leverage the ag database to market to national, regional and local trade associations, building a user base among farmers and agribusinesses nationwide.

TheAgZone.com offers commodity-specific content, online forums with experts in the fields, Web seminars, e-newsletters, free e-mail for members, Web site creation and management, co-op advertising, Internet education and training, and policy information. In order to gain farmers' loyalty, the site will provide compelling and familiar content within online communities.

"Farmers and ranchers are community oriented, and make decisions based on what others are doing and saying," says Dr. Penbera. "With this in mind, we plan to offer customized information through commodity specific ëzones." These zones are rich in content, and are being developed to be competitive with vertical markets by providing tailored extensive services such as weather, pricing, research, membership, government information, college and university resources, and trade areas."

TheAgZone.com will launch a strong mix of interactive, print, radio, and television advertising coverage in anticipation of new technologies and delivery capabilities.

The company now has 41 professional employees, making it one of the largest Internet companies in the ag domain. AM

 

Julie Benevedes is public relations manager for TheAgZone.com in Fresno, Calif.


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