April 29, 2003, 12:00 AM

After two years as a brochure site, Lane Bryant begins selling online

Marking the second stage of its e-commerce strategy, Charming Shoppes has introduced e-commerce sales for Lane Bryant, following the e-commerce strategy set last year for its Catherine`s brand.

Marking the second stage of its e-commerce strategy, Charming Shoppes Inc. has introduced e-commerce sales for its Lane Bryant brand of women`s plus-size apparel and accessories, following the e-commerce strategy set last year for its Catherine`s brand, the company said today.

Until now operated only as a brochure site, LaneBryant.com gets 750,000 unique visitors each month. But 80% of Lane Bryant`s online visitors have said in recent surveys that they also want to buy on the web, said Lane Bryant president Diane Missel. The company declines to project online sales for Lane Bryant, though a spokeswoman says online sales at Catherines.com, which launched e-commerce operations in March 2002, are going according to plan.

Lane Bryant will promote its e-commerce activity through in-store signs and direct-mail pieces that include "Fast Finder" codes for promotional products. Once on the web site, shoppers will be able to enter the 5-digit Fast Finder code into a window that appears on every web page for single-click access to the promoted product. LaneBryant.com also offers a My Virtual Model tool for testing how apparel styles look on different body types.

Charming Shoppes kicked off its e-commerce strategy in 2001, when it acquired the e-commerce server and other assets of women`s apparel retailer Alight.com instead of building its own e-commerce presence. Having acquired Catherine`s in 2000, including about 500 stores and an online brochure site, it chose it for its first e-commerce site. (Alight.com continues to operate as a separate entity under a new e-commerce infrastructure.)

Charming acquired Lane Bryant in 2001, including a brochure web site and 640 stores. The spokeswoman says Charming has no plans to offer e-commerce sales for its Fashion Bug brand because it already has a broad brick-and-mortar presence with nearly 1,100 stores. FashionBug.com which will remain a brochure site.

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