January 31, 2007, 12:00 AM

FragranceNet.com turns to technology for spelling, shipping help

FragranceNet.com deployed new product search and order scanning technology last year that contributed to online sales growth of 66%.

FragranceNet.com, No. 205 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites, deployed new product search and order scanning technology last year that contributed to online sales growth of 66% compared to 2005.

The web-only retailer of brand name fragrances and other products, including skin and hair care and candles marked its 10th year online in January. President Jason S. Apfel attributes much of that success to a loyal customer base attracted by a broad product base and great customer service.

E-commerce tools have been added steadily over the years and increasingly are developed in-house, which helped establish a close link with customers, Apfel says. “When we started 10 years ago almost all of our technology was outsourced,” he says. “Now 95% is built by us.”

FragranceNet upgraded its product search technology in 2006 to address more of the common-and frequent-product misspellings that were crimping sales.

On the back end, the addition of computerized scanning tools has “virtually eliminated all mistakes” in the order picking, packing and checking process, Apfel says. Integrating information systems with shipping partners, such as UPS, enables FragranceNet to produce shipping labels onsite.

FragranceNet’s e-commerce plans for 2007 include a customer loyalty program and gift cards. Online gift certificates already are available, but the retailer soon will offer plastic cards that can be mailed to recipients. “Buying fragrance is personal and it’s hard to know what someone wants,” Apfel says.

A quick-ship option will be live for Valentine’s Day so customers can buy from a list of eligible gifts right up to the big day. “It helps procrastinators,” Apfel adds.

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