August 6, 2008, 12:00 AM

Jones Apparel delivers an e-commerce progress report

A year after Jones Apparel Group Inc. told Wall Street analysts that it was making a move to improve the performance of its e-commerce operation, the company is beginning to see results. Web sales for footwear in the second quarter were up 38.5%.

A year after Jones Apparel Group Inc. told Wall Street analysts that it was making a move to improve the performance of its e-commerce operation, the company is beginning to see results.

Though Jones, No. 310 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, didn’t break out specific figures, web sales for its line of footwear in the second quarter were up 38.5% and up by 27.3% so far this year, the company says. For the second quarter, Jones posted net income of $10.6 million on sales of $829.4 million vs. a net loss of $47.1 million on sales of $903.9 million in the prior year.

“Our Internet strategy continues to develop and initial improvements to the sites, our systems and the marketing programs have generated a 27% increase in Internet sales year-to-date,” Jones CEO Wesley Card told analysts. “In fact in July we’ve just about doubled our sales over last July. So all of these efforts have shown some good results.”

In August 2007 Jones hired Ronald Offir as president of e-commerce, a new position. From 2002 to 2006, Offir was divisional vice president of Coach Inc., where he managed Coach.com. That same month Jones also relaunched NineWest.com focusing on creating a fashion magazine look while improving its e-commerce aspects. The relaunched site includes new sections the LookBook and Trends. The LookBook highlights the top apparel picks for the season and showcases how to put them together. Trends presents targeted collections of what’s hot in the fashion industry along with ways to add hot items to a shopper’s wardrobe. Shoppers can buy directly from both sections.

So far this year the company has also redesigned another site – EasySpirit.com – and integrated various back-end systems to now show web shoppers inventory across all channels, including stores and e-commerce. “We’re linking the web site to the entire inventory in the chain,” Card told analysts. “Instead of just having the inventory that was bought specifically for the Internet, you’ve got the entire inventory base open for sale.”

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