November 25, 2002, 12:00 AM

Housewares and Home Furnishings: Loading up the sites

(Page 4 of 4)

But it’s not just in the look and feel of the site that Crate & Barrel achieves consistency. It’s in the content as well. Apart from furniture, 95% of store products are available on the web, King says. And furniture is moving there quickly. Already, customers can buy casual furniture online. They can view the whole collection online and that is driving store sales. “A lot of customers come in with pages they’ve printed from the web site,” King says. Crate & Barrel hopes to expand furniture sales online next year.

In addition, the gift registry is tightly integrated into the web, store kiosks and the call center. From 30 minutes previously, registry information is updated in under 1 minute today, no matter where the sale occurs. “The gift registry is truly seamless,” Okamura says.

Crate & Barrel is keen on making the site even more responsive to customers and not just in the merchandise it presents. Another initiative has been to change the site’s architecture so marketers and merchandisers can update products and make other changes without submitting those changes to the IT department. “It’s a manual process now,” King says. “With new administrative tools we will be able to make changes more quickly.”

Keeping up with customers is one of the features that distinguishes Crate & Barrel, observers say, and the web is helping. “People have high expectations of the Crate & Barrel brand,” Okamura says. “They have come a long way in ensuring that the web shopping experience is true to their brand.”

CrateandBarrel.com

Date
April 1999
Unique Visitors
470,718/mo.*
Design By
Fry MultiMedia
Site Search
Endeca Technologies Inc.
CRM
none
Affiliate Management
none
Fulfillment
in-house
Order Management
in-house
Returns Liquidation
in-house, using outlet stores
Web Analytics
DoubleClick Inc.
Content Management
in-house
E-mail Management
DoubleClick Inc.
*As reported by comScore Networks Inc.

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Fortunoff
The web leverages a family legacy

In New York City, where a generation of Baby Boomers grew up seeing actress Lauren Bacall in classy TV pitches for “Fortunoff, the Source,” a retailing family name can go a long way. The home furnishings and jewelry retailer’s Fortunoff.com makes a major contribution to the company’s sales even though Fortunoff does little to promote it.

“It’s wildly profitable,” says David Fortunoff, grandson of founders Max and Clara Fortunoff and the president of Fortunoff.com. “The contribution it makes to the company is amazing.”

The web site, launched in 1996, is doing more than $15 million a year in sales, or about 5% of overall sales, he notes. And that’s without a single employee dedicated to Fortunoff.com, which uses the same merchandising, fulfillment and IT staff as the rest of the company, Fortunoff says. He allocates 10% of his own time for managing the site, a duty that includes making sure every customer e-mail message is answered, leaving the rest of his time to his responsibilities as CIO of the entire company, which includes eight stores and a catalog.

The retailer is known for quality and value in an assortment of products, including uncommon tabletop gifts. It has expanded its number of stores conservatively, declining constant requests from transplanted customers to locate in Florida and other destinations. A major reason for staying put is the success of its web site: About 25% of web sales are to customers outside of the New York area.

And because Fortunoff.com carries all of the retailer’s brands, it offers online shoppers what they might not find in any one particular store. “That works to their advantage and they do a good job,” says Arvin Jawa, manager at retail consultants LakeWest Group.

Fortunoff says he tried marketing Fortunoff.com in major web portals and other venues in the past, spending as much as $100,000 for a single contract. But he has found it more effective to send e-mail promotions to customers and prospects that the company picks up through its other advertising.

Instead of aggressive marketing, Fortunoff.com focuses on customer service, its president says. Although it has offered image zooming for years-it uses TrueSpectra Inc. software to turn product shots into crystal clear high-resolution images-it emphasizes descriptive text over graphics to maximize browsing speed. It responds to customer requests, such as explaining how to check on order status. And like Fortunoff stores, the web site offers free gift-wrapping for all but its bulkiest products. “We’re not your conventional retailer, and we don’t run a conventional web site,” Fortunoff says.

Fortunoff.com

Date
1996
Unique Visitors
340,000/mo.
Sales
$15 million (last FY)
Design By
Divine Inc., Smatt-Florence Inc.

Site Search

bpallen technologies LLC’s Teapot Server
CRM
in-house
Affiliate Management
none
Fulfillment
in-house
Order Management
in-house
Returns Liquidation
in-house
Web Analytics
NetIQ Corp.’s Webtrends
Payment Processor
Paymentech L.P.
Content Management
in-house
E-mail Management
NCR Corp.

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