December 2, 2003, 12:00 AM

Specialty / Non-Apparel:Whatever a shopper wants, it`s online

(Page 3 of 4)

ICON ushered in a new strategy of expanding NordicTrack’s market horizon to reach more consumers by offering both more conventional exercise equipment like treadmills and complementary products in exercise apparel, yoga kits, aromatic therapy packages and nutritional supplements. While ICON operates 71 NordicTrack stores in 27 states, the web is a key component in expanding its market reach as well as its level of customer service.

“NordicTrack has been a very strong niche brand for at least 30 years, but it hasn’t been able to sell to enough people,” says Duif Calvin, a retail analyst based in San Francisco. “To be successful, it had to widen the brand’s appeal. But it couldn’t do that with less-expensive equipment without harming the brand’s image, so it extended into other categories.”

For its extension strategy to work, NordicTrack has designed a web site intended to make it as easy as possible for shoppers to understand the intricacies of its exercise equipment and the benefits offered by complementary products, says Ryan Dunkley, director of e-commerce. “We’re a customer service site first and foremost,” he says.

NordicTrack.com lets shoppers navigate with single a click from each product page to a comparison chart of all similar products, or to a buyer’s guide summarizing the important features to consider in each category.

Products are also arranged to support cross-selling. The “C” series, for instance, is designed to be sold with mint-scented aromatherapy packages that eventually need to be replaced. And as with all exercise equipment, treadmills are cross-promoted with rotating special offers. “We sell a lot of accessories and our overall sales are higher with the cross-selling on our web pages,” Dunkley says.

NordicTrack.com
Date
1998
Unique Visitors (monthly)
NA
Site Design
Studio Interactive Direct/in-house
CRM
in-house
Affiliate Management
Affiliate Crew
Fulfillment
in-house
Order Management
in-house
Web Analytics
Omniture/in-house
Payment Processor
NA
Content Management
in-house
E-Mail Management
in-house
Site Search
in-house
Search Engine Management
in-house

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Reflect.com
The ultimate market of one

Utility is the driver when buying a mop or broom, but it’s a different story when a woman buys cosmetics: she’s treating herself. Reflect.com has made that a cornerstone of its custom cosmetics business. From purchasing to product to packaging, the process aims, in CEO Richard Gerstein’s words, “to delight the female cosmetics shopper. Women tell us that when they get their order in the mail, they feel as though they are receiving a gift.”

With the power of key stakeholder Procter & Gamble Inc.’s science and consumer research behind it, the independent Reflect.com has been able to do what few have accomplished: successfully mass-market a custom product online. Women can order cosmetics formulated to suit their own requirements at a price that competes with the prefab offerings of prestige department store brands. Reflect.com has narrowed its return rate to about 2%, significantly below the average return rate of about 7% to 8% for department store cosmetics, with its online neural network questionnaire that ensures women find the right product before placing an order.

“50% of women believe they have sensitive skin, for example, but it’s actually a lot fewer,” Gerstein says. “We ask a women if she believes she has sensitive skin, if she has had rosacea or if she uses products from a dermatologist. She has to answer yes to two to be classified as having truly sensitive skin. We use the questions to do a diagnosis of what she really needs.”

After shipping an order, Reflect.com offers by e-mail to reformulate any product that does not meet expectations for free, which it does in about 10% of cases. That helps keep the repeat buyer rate at 40%. The rest of its success lies in a micro-manufacturing process that allows it to economically produce lots of one.

Reflect.com has begun to use the corporate name Reflect True Custom Beauty to mirror its expansion into retail. It has a store in the Chicago suburbs and a boutique in Marshall Field’s downtown. Retail, says Gerstein, is capturing customers who’ve seen the brand online but want to try it in store. That’s driving more back online for replenishment, which the site encourages with new features added this year, live chat and A/B testing capability that continues to improve the site. “We found, for instance, that people were ignoring a big icon in the center of our home page and going to product links. So we replaced the icon with four larger product links and saw conversions off the page increase significantly,” says Gerstein. “Now, there’s nothing on the site that didn’t get A/B testing first.” m

Reflect.com
Date
1999
Unique Visitors (monthly)
1,442,000*
Site Design
in-house
CRM
E.piphany/in-house
Affiliate Management
BeFree
Fulfillment
in-house
Order Management
Optum/in-house
Web Analytics
in-house
Payment Processor
CyberSource
E-Mail Management
in-house
*As reported by comScore Networks Inc.

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SharperImage.com
It`s easy to shop for innovation

It’s one thing to offer products that grab shoppers’ attention and fill them with “I-must-have-that” feelings. It’s quite another to do that and make shoppers feel at home, with plenty of support for making decisions about purchasing products like the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner that can be confusing as well as innovative.

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