November 25, 2002, 12:00 AM

Specialty/Apparel and Accessories: An ensemble of approaches

(Page 2 of 4)

Date
April 1999
Unique Visitors
100,000/mo.*
Design By
Multimedia Live
Site Search
Multimedia Live
CRM
in-house
Affiliate Management
Multimedia Live, LinkShare Corp.
Fulfillment
in-house
Order Management
in-house
Returns Liquidation
in-house
Web Analytics
in-house
Payment Processor
First National Bank of Omaha
Content Management
Multimedia Live
E-mail Management
Multimedia Live
*As reported by comScore Networks Inc.

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eBags
Class by association

EBags.com knows the power of brands. It features 170-and-growing brands of luggage and accessories, it’s tied its fortunes to the power of well known travel brands like Hilton Hotels and Northwest Airlines and it’s just repeated a successful advertising campaign on bags of Frito-Lay products.

The relationships fit together in the marketing scenario that eBags executives envision: After planning air travel and hotel accommodations on Expedia.com, a traveler checks into a Hilton Hotel room and finds a promotional card co-branded by Hilton and eBags and offering a deal on new luggage. Seeing the eBags logo on the card, the traveler recalls seeing it on Expedia.com as well as on the Northwest Airlines site. If the traveler hadn’t heard of eBags before, he suddenly realizes it travels with good company. “When they’re unpacking their luggage, and they realize they need new luggage, it helps us to be associated with these other brands,” says Peter Cobb, vice president of marketing and co-founder of eBags.

Sales at eBags.com, which also maintains co-branding partnerships with DoubleTree Hotels and several major airlines, have grown an average of 40% a month since it launched in March 1999. After earning its first profits in the second and third quarters of this year, the Denver-based company expects to set a record in the fourth quarter due to holiday sales.

Moreover, eBags has entered the multi-channel world with a 40-page catalog that it launched last month with a mailing to 250,000 households.

EBags maintains traffic flow of 1 million to 2 million unique visitors every month, depending on the season. Cobb attributes most of the site’s traffic and sales to its broad selection of brands such as Samsonite, Jansport and Liz Claiborne-no brand accounts for more than 10% of sales, he says-along with its aggressive marketing. “There’s not a brick-and-mortar retailer that can offer the depth of selection that eBags can,” says Ken Cassar, senior analyst with Jupiter Research Inc.

But eBags also works hard at understanding customers’ shopping behavior and continuously upgrading their online shopping experience. With as many as 60,000 visitors a day, eBags routinely researches the impact of different merchandising techniques on buying behavior and profit margins by showing half of visitors a site that includes new merchandising techniques, while the other half sees the old version of the site. EBags executives then sit back and watch which version is more effective. “We know how many purchases were made on each site, the average order size and profit margins,” Cobb says. “Whichever one wins becomes the new site.”

eBags.com

Date
March 1999
Unique Visitors
1-2 million/mo.
Design By
in-house
Site Search
Mercado Software Inc.
CRM
Kana Software Inc.
Affiliate Management
Be Free Inc.
Fulfillment
in-house
Order Management
in-house
Returns Liquidation
in-house
Web Analytics
Kana Software Inc.
Payment Processor
Paymentech L.P.
Content Management
in-house
E-mail Management
Kana Software Inc.

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Hanna Andersson
And baby makes three

If family values are important to a retailer’s image-and few would doubt they are-Hanna Andersson has the formula down pat. Clicking through Hanna Andersson Corp.’s HannaAndersson.com, it’s difficult not to experience a feel-good aura seeing babies and kids decked out in casual yet quality clothes, often coordinated with what Mom and Dad are wearing.

Hanna Andersson specializes in quality European clothes for families with higher-than-average incomes. “They offer wonderful products and a great brand,” says Duif Calvin, a retail analyst based in San Francisco. Given the Swedish spelling of the name-founders Gun and Tom Denhart named the company after Gun’s grandmother-the company has been smart to register several spellings of HannaAndersson.com so people can misspell it and still find it, Calvin says. With 150,000 unique visitors each month, HannaAndersson.com accounts for about 40% of company sales of $67 million.

The company’s online strategy is in perfect sync with its offline: it sells all-cotton, durable clothes designed to be comfortable for all ages and it dresses up its web site with images from the catalog of parents and children in coordinated outfits. It’s been a successful strategy that resonates with its target market, says Phillip Bulebar, vice president of marketing. “More than half of our customers repeat within 12 months,” he says. And those loyal customers pass the word along: “A fair percentage of our new customers come through referrals from existing customers,” he says.

The web site also plays an important role in offering specialty products, the primary example being school uniforms, which do not sell in enough quantities to warrant space in the company’s handful of stores or in its catalogs.

HannaAndersson.com has been intentional in not creating too fancy a web site-and that image fits with the simplicity of its products for young children and families. But it also leads to some dead-ends, as some of the images aren’t linked to descriptions. “They’re not following the conventions of web shopping-that is, if you see something you can click to it,” Calvin says.

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