May 19, 2008, 12:00 AM

Ashley Stewart tries e-commerce on for size

Woman’s plus size clothing retailer Ashley Stewart says it was responding to customer requests when it launched its retail site last week. And enthusiastic customers quickly showed their support. AshleyStewart.com received 800 orders in just 36 hours.

Woman’s plus size clothing retailer Ashley Stewart says it was responding to customer requests when it launched its retail site last week. And enthusiastic customers quickly showed their support for the online store. AshleyStewart.com received 800 orders in less than two days.

“Customers kept asking for it. I was literally getting 20-30 e-mails a day,” says Jonas Shapiro, director of e-commerce, for Urban Brands which operates the more than 215 Ashley Stewart stores and now AshleyStewart.com.

The site, powered by e-commerce software provider Art Technology Group Inc. with fulfillment, customer service and order processing handled by PFSWeb Inc., allows the retailer to offer different promotions based on the geographical region of a visitor. For instance, a consumer with an IP address from Florida may see a promotion for T-shirts, while one from Maine may learn about a sale on wool sweaters. Ashley Stewart also can target customers based on what they have viewed before or past purchasing behavior.

To make the purchasing process quicker and to reduce shopping cart abandonment, the site uses Ajax technology (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) to offer a single-page checkout. Fields such as address and payment information can be entered without the user having to navigate to another page. In the near future, Shapiro says shoppers will be able to listen to the same music they hear in stores as they browse online.

Ashley Stewart promoted its new site in stores with signs and short between musical selections. Store employees at Ashley Stewart also stapled flyers about the launch to receipts. Other marketing initiatives included radio spots and e-mails to about 500,000 customers.

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