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Velcro USA Inc. told SNEWS® recently that the company’s August “soft launch” of Velcro Direct Online has been very well-received by customers. Velcro Direct Online allows manufacturers to place orders online ($300 minimum), as well as track them 24 hours a day. Currently, this service is only available to U.S.-based businesses and only to tax-exempt companies, meaning retailers need not apply. However, Justin Ferdinand, Velcro’s e-commerce manager told us that it is possible the company will begin offering the service to retailers by the end of 2003. As for international expansion, Ferdinand told us that, “What is offered in the U.S. is completely from what is necessary in Europe. We are going to take small steps first and don’t anticipate making this program available internationally for up to two years.” For more information and to register for this service, go to www.velcro.com.