A new forecast from Forrester Research credits greater online spending by Canadians, lower shipping costs and more selection for the spending increase.
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For the new Bloomingdales.com site, the emphasis was on content, Robertson says. “We wanted the Bloomingdale’s site to be reflective of the brands,” she says. “Bloomingdale’s is an authority on what’s hot in fashion trends It’s about fun and excitement and that’s what we wanted to expand on the web site.” Content features include new boutiques, concept shops and an expanded version of its hip Y.E.S. boutique. The site also has a home planner that provides advice on home decorating trends. “At the same time, we wanted to make it easier to shop online,” says Robertson. New features to do this include the catalog quick order and express checkout.
The Bloomingdales.com home page makes a big fashion statement, Wilder says, and gets consumers excited about shopping and fashion. “You can tell this is a great store,” she says.
Other fun content on the new sites includes e-mail postcards with the theme of “Meet me at Bloomingdale’s. “It’s a nice tie-in to the store,” says Robertson. The e-mail postcards also allow the company to compile e-mail addresses for marketing efforts, Robertson says. And she notes that the heritage of Bloomingdale’s is of people shopping the windows in the New York store on 59th Street. To capitalize on that, the web site has added a feature that allows visitors to see the latest window dressings.
Fashion is a huge part of Bloomingdales’ brand, so naturally Federated is playing up its trend-setting status by adding designer boutiques online. New boutiques on Bloomingdales.com include Carolee, DKNY, Ralph Lauren and Lancome. Generaton Y.E.S.-which stands for “young Eastsiders”- is one of Bloomingdale’s own boutiques where consumers can find the most hip and modern apparel. “Putting more categories online underlines our efforts to try to bring the best of Bloomingdale’s online,” Robertson says. Bloomingdale’s has also added more concept shops to capitalize on its trendy reputation. They include Poolside, Spa, Luxe Home and Fine Jewelry. Bloomingdale’s says it successfully pioneered the concept-shop idea with its Hot@, Broadway Cares and Beatles shops. Robertson says Bloomingdale’s will focus on “bigger and better” concept shops, including one for Christmas.
Wilder likes Bloomingdale’s concept shops. In particular the jewelry shop has very clear images, which makes it easier to buy jewelry online. She suggests the store add more content such as a gemstone guide to encourage customers.
Don’t forget the catalog
Similar to My Macy’s Closet, Bloomingdales.com has instituted its own personalized shopping tool for the home called Home Planner. The new tool provides advice on current and future trends in the bath, bedroom, dining and kitchen categories. It also provides three other sections: Tips & Techniques on decorating, etiquette and ideas for entertaining, Basics & Essentials, which is a glossary of houseware and decorator terms, and Product Care that explains methods and ideas for cleaning such home products as crystal, silver and linens. “We think providing such rich content tied with e-commerce will produce a lot of sales for the home division,” Robertson says.
In addition to the new product features, Bloomingdales.com also added some features to make shopping online easier. Robertson says the Bloomingdale’s catalogs are a big part of its brand, which made adding a catalog quick order function a logical step for the new web store. Customers can now access catalog pages online and shop by item number to combine their online and offline shopping. They also can search for products within a specific catalog.
Other new features include express checkout, which customers can do after registering on the site. This allows customers who keep credit card numbers on their customer profile to check out in two clicks-one to buy and one to confirm the order. Registering on the site also allows customers to receive personalized product recommendations when they log on.
In the credit services department, Bloomingdales.com has expanded its account management options to allow customers to apply for a store card online, view account balances and pay bills online. Live chats are available for customers who want to find out order status from the web site or from phone orders. Customers also can buy and use electronic gift cards online. Following Federated’s strategy to promote all its channels, customers can find out about store locations, in-store events and promotions on the site, as well as view historical information about Bloomingdale’s via Flash animation and graphics.
With its experience in real-world department stores, Federated’s Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s web sites expect to set a new standard for online retailing. “Changing content is what we do best. We have years of experience in merchandising the hottest products and newest trends. That’s what sets us apart,” Robertson says. “We have developed a process so that we can extend that online. It’s not easy but we think that it will help us and it’s part of our culture to identify the latest retailing trends. It takes constant maintenance and updating and there is a learning curve. Every day we find new things about what customers want and we’re learning how to quickly react to that.”
Says Wilder: “Federated is to be applauded. They really are working through trying to make this a more user-friendly vehicle and they’ve made great strides with the site launches.”
Federated Direct expects to see results from its web site re-launches in the holiday shopping season. So far, the company has released few results. “The results we have are favorable,” Robertson says, “and we’re pleased with them. The verdict is out but we’re positioning for a winning fourth quarter.”