When it comes to talking about internet retailing, Donna Iucolanos got some mouth on her.
During the heyday of the business-to-consumer e-tailers, Iucolano spent six years in the trenches, transforming 1-800-Flowers from a telemarketing floral company into a leading online supplier of flowers, plants and gifts. As she worked her way up from marketing coordinator to senior vice president of interactive services, becoming the companys top Internet executive and strategist, Iucolano helped drive online sales to more than $120 million, or 40 percent of overall company sales.
"Shes a thought leader," says Diane Staley, senior vice president of interactive marketing at America Online, who met Iucolano when 1-800-Flowers.com became one of AOLs first shopping partners five years ago. Shes been an admirer ever since. "Its never about her, about making a gazillion dollars in 90 days — its always about the business and the customers. Shes never satisfied; shes always thinking about what the customer wants."
When she wasnt figuring out what it meant to provide online customer service, Iucolano took time to help launch Shop.org, the first-ever industry trade association for Internet retailers. Iucolano has served as a board member since its launch in 1997 and is currently vice-chairperson for the group, which boasts more than 400 members. "I felt I had the opportunity to build something special," she says in her trademark raspy voice.
Though her contributions may not have turned her into an Internet household name, Iucolanos success attracted the attention of Scholastic, which last year offered her a job leading the companys Internet Group. Its quite a change from pushing posies, but one that suits the former public high school teacher.
"Unlike the dot-com space, we have a lot of customers, a lot of products, a state-of-the-art fulfillment center and the mechanics to make things happen," Iucolano says in reference to her new role.
"Theres also the notion of convergence," she says. "We are a publishing company. We are also a media company, and we sell products to teachers and parents. The potential for selling products online to all these audiences using all the assets of Scholastic is very exciting."
And while that may sound like so much talk, anyone who has ever heard Iucolano speak knows shes always ready to put her money where her mouth is.