November 30, 2005, 12:00 AM

Apparel & Accessories With many ways to win online, apparel sites thrive by choosing the...

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Even seemingly simple things like the boot laces can offer a range of choices in color and style of the laces as well as style and type of hardware in the eyes. Customers who decide they want their initials on their boots have a number of choices in type of embroidery that is used and font and color of the letters.

And to keep customers from getting overwhelmed by so many choices, Timberland allows them to pick one of seven styles and then just tweak any features they want changed. The more adventurous shoppers can design completely from scratch. “We’re going like gangbusters with this offering,” Brown says.

“If I were a serious boot buyer, I would love this site,” says Tony LaTona, analyst with Consumer Consulting LLC. “They have a lot of content for serious boot buyers. But you don’t have to leaf through it all in order to transact. This site is much better than its competitors in terms of shop-ability.”

And the customization goes beyond product content. “Each web site page is no longer static. We’re getting smarter about what each customer is interested in. What we present to them can be customized to suit their interests,” Brown says.

Timberland employs this same innovation in marketing. Shoppers who click on a Timberland banner ad for the customized boot actually begin the process of designing their boots while they are still in the banner ad at another web site. “This captures their imagination. Then they can click to our web site and finish the process,” Brown explains.


Tommy.com
Bringing ‘Tommy style’ online

When Tommy.com re-launched as a full—service e-commerce site in September, it did so with a splash. Rather than simply being an online catalog of high-end Tommy Hilfiger apparel, accessories and home products, the site also became a primer on “Tommy Style.”

Videos of fashion shows previewing Tommy’s spring 2006 collection, photos of the fall 2005 line, newsletters and other features all come together to create an environment that reflects the hip nature of the brand. It also allows consumers to view a wider selection of Tommy Hilfiger products than found in department stores, the primary distributors of Tommy products.

“We wanted the web site to be a place where people could go to really understand the full breadth of products we have,” says Jared Blank, senior director of e-commerce marketing. “We’re building out the world of Tommy online.”

Tommy.com uses familiar categories to which store and catalog shoppers are already accustomed, says Manivone Phommahaxay, consultant for user experience at Molecular Inc. “Users are not overwhelmed by the number of categories but they’re still exposed to the breadth of products,” she says. In addition, category landing pages are well thought out, she says. “They give users an interactive way to combine items to create a unique and personalized style,” she says.

Tommy.com also uses the latest online-shopping technology, including zoom and panning that give consumers close-up looks at items. The re-launched site even allows shoppers to customize the fit and style of men’s and women’s chinos and jeans. Shoppers can select fabric, color, style and other elements down to the color of thread on the buttonholes. Each step and style option has a detailed color photograph showing the exact selection. “The clickable color options make it easy for users to see product options,” Phommahaxay says.

Tommy.com also has developed special content for juniors and children. Teenagers, for example, can browse through animated e-cards showing the latest Tommy Hilfiger styles while the Norwegian musical group Ralph Myerz and The Jack Herren Band plays in the background. “We built a mini-site for the junior line because we felt to reach the teenage girl market, the presentation should have music and be more fun than the regular catalog,” Blank says.

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