November 30, 2004, 12:00 AM

Mass Merchants / Department Stores: Winning by leveraging more of what the web can do

(Page 4 of 5)

Sears, Roebuck and Co. was hoping to learn something about online retailing from the new member of its family, Lands` End, which it acquired two years ago. It learned--and then some. This fall, Sears rolled out apparel sales on its web site, complete with the virtual model technology that Lands` End pioneered. But it went Lands` End--and every other user of virtual model technology--one better by allowing multiple brands to be tried on at the same time. And it incorporated the virtual model idea into a virtual room. Shoppers can see how comforters, wall hangings, tables and lamps look on a bed in a virtual room.

Now Sears is adding a few twists of its own to an online strategy. Chief among them is offering exclusively online products previously found in Sears stores, such as sporting goods, computers and DVDs. Visitors can also purchase large items, such as snow blowers, and pick them up at the store. The offering is a hit with online shoppers, 40% of whom pick up their purchases in store.

All of these changes are creating a better integration between Sears.com and Sears` stores. "Sears is leveraging what the web does well with what its stores do well," says Geoff Wissman, vice president for consultants Retail Forward Inc. "They are striking a better balance with the web site to drive sales across the entire business."

Sears worked on the concept of web-only merchandise for a year before rolling it out late this year, according to Bill Bass, vice president and general manager of Sears Direct, who also oversees LandsEnd.com. "We have 870 stores and they don`t have the space to accommodate all the products we can offer online, even though customers want them," Bass says. "If we were to offer them in-store, it would mean shoe-horning them in, which is not good merchandising."

Sears is further refining its multi-channel strategy by using the web to test consumer acceptance of new products. The retailer initially offered a digital music player through its web site, until sales proved strong enough to warrant rolling it out in stores.

"Leveraging what Sears has learned from Land`s End has improved the site," says Wissman. "They have a bright future."

Sears, Roebuck and Co.
3333 Beverly Road Hoffman Estates, IL 60179
Date Launched
1999
Unique visitors (monthly)
9,000,000
Annual Web-Based Sales
$1,200,000,000**
Vendor Relationships
Site Design
In-house
E-Commerce Platform
BroadVision
Web Hosting
In-house
Site Search
Mercado Software

Content Management
In-house
Order Management
In-house
Payment Processor
NA
Fulfillment
In-house
Affiliate Marketing Management
Performics
Search Engine Management
Digital Edge
E-Mail Marketing
CheetahMail
CRM
In-house
Web Analytics
Omniture

Rich Media
In-house, Scene7
**Internet Retailer Top 300 Guide est., 2003


ShopNBC.com
Sharing the spotlight

After years of playing second fiddle to the TV channel, ShopNBC.com is finally getting a chance to move to the forefront of parent Value Vision Media`s multi-channel retailing strategy. Eager to create a strong brand connection between ShopNBC.com and the ShopNBC cable television channel, management ordered the site to be rebuilt from the ground up this year.

The revamped site, which launched in the fall of 2004, features several new enhancements, including a live link to the ShopNBC channel, a more precise search engine, and graphic downloads in less than one second. In addition, richer product descriptions and easier navigation tools are intended to position the web site as a shopping destination and create a better overall shopping experience for the customer that will drive traffic between the web site and the TV channel, and vice versa.

"ShopNBC has made a lot of changes and is certainly heading in the right direction," says Robert Glenn Routh, managing director, equity research for Jefferies & Co. "The challenge now is to more closely market and link the online and television channels." Industry experts say ShopNBC is certainly capable of pulling off the feat.

Customer service will play a key role in ShopNBC.com`s effort to reinvent itself. A more advanced account management section has been added to the site that allows customers to check on the status of their orders by linking directly to Federal Express. "Customers told us they wanted that feature and now that it has been added, that complaint is gone," says Kevin Abramson, director of Internet marketing for ShopNBC.com.

Plans for further enhancements are also in the works, such as shopping guides that tell consumers how to set up a computer and how carat, clarity, color, and cut determine the quality and price of a diamond. "Our aim is to be a shopping resource that delivers the price points people want," says Abramson.

There is no question ShopNBC.com has made the right moves to reposition its site and become more than just an icon on consumers` computer systems. "The opportunities are certainly there to tie into the TV channel," says Routh. "Now they must show they can do it."

ShopNBC.com/ValueVision Media Inc.
6740 Shady Oak Road Eden Prairie, MN 55344
Date Launched
1998
Unique visitors (monthly)
780,000
Annual Web-Based Sales
$111,000,000 (2003)
Vendor Relationships
Site Design
In-house
E-Commerce Platform
In-house on .NET
Web Hosting
NA
Site Search
Google
Content Management
In-house
Order Management
In-house
Payment Processor
Paymentech
Fulfillment
In-house, CommerceHub
Affiliate Marketing Management
Commission Junction
Search Engine Management
In-house
E-Mail Marketing
In-house
CRM
In-house
Web Analytics
Coremetrics

Rich Media
Real Networks


SmartBargains.com
Going fast
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