November 30, 2004, 12:00 AM

Housewares / HomeFurnishings: Style to apsire to and how to pull it off at home

(Page 2 of 3)

Dancing chopsticks and animated martini glasses aren`t the norm at CrateandBarrel.com -but they are at CB2.com. The online launch of the edgier home gear sub-brand has occupied much of the retailer`s focus this year and--no surprise--it shows much of the same expertise that`s made Crate and Barrel a perennial hit with shoppers.

"They`re fanatical about the merchandise and making it look as appealing as possible," says J.C. Williams Group senior partner Jim Okamura. "That`s translated well into the CB2 organization. The Crate and Barrel mentality is to pay a lot of attention to fine details and provide good customer service through its product information and policies. That comes across in-store and online."

While CB2.com replicates the quality of the online experience at CrateandBarrel.com, it offers a completely different look. It trends toward the quirky and whimsical, which lines up precisely with the merchandise itself and the experience of being in what are now two Chicago-area CB2 stores. The color palate, ultra-modern designs and price points aim for a young adult market, reflecting a growing home furnishings trend that segments the market into age niches.

It`s significant that Crate and Barrel chose to launch CB2 online only after experimenting with the concept in its original store over a number of years. "It`s true to Crate and Barrel`s way of doing things. They`ve played with the concept to the point that they are comfortable with it and the business model is probably going to work," says Okamura. "The online channel should play a larger role in the growth of CB2 as a brand overall--it`s an efficient way for people to try it."

After more than two decades in business, Crate and Barrel has reached a level at which further improvements are incremental rather than radical, and it`s moving the competition online beyond operations onto a different plane. "Like other major retailers they`ve focused a lot on operations to make sure things didn`t go wrong. Now they`re showcasing their core skills, which are in merchandising," says Okamura. "That`s finding the right product and presenting it in a way that entices people to buy. That`s what separates great from good retailers, and Crate and Barrel does it very well."

Crate and Barrel
1250 Techny Road Northbrook, IL 60062
Date Launched
April 1999
Unique visitors (monthly)
2,000,000
Annual Web-Based Sales
$37,500,000**
Vendor Relationships
Site Design
In-house
E-Commerce Platform
Microsoft
Web Hosting
Fry Inc.
Site Search
Endeca Technologies
Content Management
In-house
Order Management
In-house
Payment Processor
ISD, Paymentech
Fulfillment
In-house
Affiliate Marketing Management
In-house
Search Engine Management
In-house, Performics
E-Mail Marketing
DoubleClick
CRM
In-house, Unica
Web Analytics
DoubleClick
Rich Media
RichFX, Flash, Scene7

**Internet Retailer Top 300 Guide est., 2003


PotteryBarnKids.com
Own the home-and start early

Inside retail merchandising powerhouse Williams-Sonoma Corp., the marketing mantra is "Own the home" -and the brand portfolio`s child- and baby-focused Pottery-BarnKids.com gets it off to an early start. The 3-year-old web site, which followed the launch of the Pottery Barn Kids catalog and stores, represents the youngest audience target in a lifestyle marketing strategy that follows customers across home gear concepts and price points that address their needs at different life stages.

"At lot of retailers are growing their business by taking their core competencies and applying them to different customer segments," says Mary Brett Whitfield, senior vice president at consultants Retail Forward Inc. "Certainly someone who has a Pottery Barn sensibility in the rest of their home would welcome the ability to take that into their children`s rooms."

PotteryBarnKids.com made that easier this year with initiatives that enhance home page presence; for example, launching a feature that lets parents visualize their child`s name as applied to a custom chair. Navigation was streamlined to differentiate products for boys from those for girls as well as babies` items from kids`, to allow customers to get more quickly to the types of products they are looking for.

A key part of PotteryBarnKids` success is that along with kids` furnishings, it also supplies shoppers with the confidence to make purchase decisions. The web site supports that with the ability to shop by room, for example, presenting all the product elements that go into making up a depicted room setting on one page. It also offers extended tips and advice, with information on how to recreate at home looks and experiences shown on the web site and catalog, whether it`s arranging the holiday "kids` table," or setting up a crib.

The presentation of deeper information along with a broader assortment are two of the site`s designated roles, says Paul Miller, e-commerce vice president at Williams-Sonoma. "At any time you are typically going to see the biggest, richest assortment we have available on the web," he says. The rest is giving shoppers a look to aspire to. "We use the web as a way to connect with our customers and inspire them," Miller says.

PotteryBarnKids.com/ Williams-Sonoma Inc.
151 Union St. San Francisco, CA 94111
Date Launched
May 2001
Unique visitors (monthly)
1,000,000
Vendor Relationships
Site Design
Ashton Abeck, In-house
E-Commerce Platform
Macromedia Coldfusion
Web Hosting
In-house
Site Search
Mercado Software

Content Management
In-house
Order Management
In-house
Payment Processor
NA
Fulfillment
NA
Affiliate Marketing Management
In-house
Search Engine Management
Performics
E-Mail Marketing
In-house
Web Analytics
Coremetrics

Content Delivery Network
Akamai Technologies
Rich Media
Scene7


Williams-Sonoma.com
To surprise and delight
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