November 9, 2004, 12:00 AM

Kmart gives a new online blue light the green light

Just in time for the real start of the online holiday shopping season, Kmart will unveil a recreated Kmart.com on Nov. 18 with new features such as better search.

The recent corporate trials and tribulations of Kmart, aren’t stopping the multi-channel retailer from expediting a new e-commerce strategy. In fact, just in time for the real start of the online holiday shopping season, Kmart will unveil a recreated Kmart.com on Nov. 18.

The new site will tie in closely to the Troy, MI.-based chain’s multi-channel retail strategy. Like its store, the new Kmart.com will use improved search applications to help customers better shop by department, price, brand and new items.

While details on the new search technology are still unavailable, the chain is promising faster search results to help customers pinpoint the merchandise they are looking for. The e-commerce site will also include many of the retailer’s most popular in-store brands such as Route 66, Attention, Thalia Sodi and Martha Stewart Everyday.

To improve customer service and personalize the shopping experience, the new Kmart.com will also feature more personal tools and programs such as a customized wish list, online gift-wrapping service, buying guides and expanded product details with larger images and color swatches.

Kmart isn’t talking publicly about its redesigned site until the official reopening. But analysts anticipate that Kmart will debut with a successful and well-thought strategy. “Their brand is pretty well known so the brand by itself may result in more shoppers checking out the redesign,” says Jim Okamura, Chicago-based senior partner with retail consultants J.C. Williams Group. “Their timing right before the holidays is curious. There’s a lot of noise out there now and the timing may limit the marketing traction they can get.”

To promote the new web site – and attract more online shoppers -- the new Kmart.com will debut with a holiday sweepstakes that will select a daily winner for $500 worth of merchandise from their online “wish list.”

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