December 2, 2003, 12:00 AM

Specialty / Apparel and Accessories:Stitching the details into winning formulas

(Page 6 of 7)

TShirtKing.com
Date
1998
Unique Visitors (monthly)
289,000*
Sales (annual)
$1-$10,000,000
Site Design
in-house
CRM
in-house
Affiliate Management
Commission Junction
Fulfillment
in-house
Order Management
Mail Order Management
Web Analytics
Urchin
Payment Processor
Authorize.net

Content Management
in-house
E-Mail Management
in-house
Site Search
in-house
Search Engine Management
in-house
*As reported by comScore Networks Inc.

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VictoriasSecret.com
Fashioning a wider assortment

Victoria’s Secret does a lot of things well, from presenting fashion-forward lingerie to creating destination stores both offline and online. But what it’s learning to do better is leverage its branded image to make merchandising more effective at producing sales on VictoriasSecret.com.

“We’re using our brand to bring visual cues as navigation images on product landing pages, because that creates a visual shopping experience while reinforcing our brand at the same time,” says Ken Weil, who runs the web site as vice president of new media at Victoria’s Secret, a unit of Limited Brands Inc.

VictoriasSecret.com does an exceptional job of leveraging its images while maintaining fast page downloads for a positive experience, says Rob Gallo, consultant with Retail Forward Inc. “Victoria’s Secret’s images are not only functional, to give shoppers a feel for how well the products look, but the site’s use of models reinforces the brand as fashion-forward,” he says.

When a shopper lands on a product page, she’s greeted with several images of models showcasing Victoria’s Secret apparel in its various forms. Not only do the images entice more sales, but they’ve become a valuable tool in promoting sales of coordinated sets, Weil says.

VictoriasSecret.com, unlike its store counterparts that focus primarily on lingerie, offers several apparel categories including sweaters, casual clothes, party dresses and sleepwear. Since reworking its merchandising in recent months to promote more outfit and wardrobe sales, items merchandised in sets are selling 10-30% more than when merchandised separately, Weil says. “We realized that women often like to shop for outfits,” he says.

In its sleepwear section, for example, VictoriasSecret.com displays a coordinated set of pajamas, a robe and slippers. The shopper can click on one or more of the items topurchase what she wants in a single “add to shopping cart” step. A navigation bar on the same page lets shoppers look for other items in sleepwear and other categories.

The site is also promoting sales of wardrobes for multiple apparel categories. In its “clothing and trends” section, for instance, the first page emphasizes an image of a model showcasing the VictoriasSecret.com sweater line, but the page also features several smaller images designed to draw shoppers into complementary sections offering coordinated outfits. Clicking on an image of a model in a cocktail dress takes a shopper to a “holiday style” section that displays several coordinated outfits on a single page. “Adding wardrobe areas will be a big theme for us moving forward,” Weil says. m

VictoriasSecret.com
Date
1998
Unique Visitors (monthly)
3,173,000*
Sales (annual)
$300,000,000 (est.)
Site Design
in-house
CRM
in-house
Affiliate Management
in-house
Fulfillment
in-house
Order Management
in-house
Web Analytics
Coremetrics/in-house/Fireclick
Payment Processor
in-house
Content Management
in-house
E-Mail Management
Digital Impact/in-house
Site Search
in-house
Search Engine Management
in-house
Content Delivery Network
Akamai
*As reported by comScore Networks Inc.

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WesternWarehouse.com
Customizing the web experience

One of the benefits of selling online is the ability to use the web to zero in on what customers want. Like custom cowboy boots. Or like lay-away plans. Western Warehouse, which operates 29 stores in four states as well as WesternWarehouse.com, knew its customers liked custom cowboy boots and that as a relatively low income group, many wanted to time the payments of boots that sometimes were out of their budgets. Trouble was, the technology to serve those customers didn’t exist.

And so Western Warehouse looked inside to its IT staff, which agreed to put up a custom boot function, then found out there was no such technology available. 45 days and a crash course in how boots are built resulted in a custom boot configurator going live at WesternWarehouse.com just over a year ago. The site hosts the only interactive custom boot builder on the web; other boot sellers ask customers to fill out an e-mail form with their foot measurements and style desires. “The custom boot feature is a good example of how the Internet is well suited to aggregate demand and offer a unique service to consumers all over the world,” says Mary Brett Whitfield, senior vice president of consultants Retail Forward Inc. Western Warehouse does, in fact, have a Japanese language site.

Western Warehouse’s new lay-away plan-which went live in May-was also an in-house effort. Participation in the layaway plan requires a $250 minimum purchase and a 25% deposit. Customers can choose up to six installments in up to three months and pay by check or automatic charge to a credit card. Western Warehouse is hoping to increase sales by providing another payment option to a customer base whose average annual income is $25,000-$30,000, says Rick Shankles, Internet applications manager. “Many of our core customers don’t have credit cards, so it’s very helpful to them to be able to do this online or over the phone,” he says.

Providing lay-away is a smart move, Whitfield says. “For many of the customers, boots are a big part of their lives and discretionary income is limited,” she says. “Lay-away is a lost service with the wide availability of credit cards, but it makes sense in this case.”

WesternWarehouse.com now is extending its reach. It has signed on with online shopping destinations, including Yahoo Shopping, BizRate.com, Shopping.com, Pricegrabber.com, Froogle and others. It’s also put up a store in the Amazon.com apparel section. And the chain recently installed web-enabled kiosks in all stores, so-why else?-shoppers can place custom orders.

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