May 28, 2009, 12:00 AM

Columbia to launch first retail site, and offer access to it in stores

Columbia Sportswear, a retailer of outdoor apparel and footwear, this summer will launch its first retail site, incorporating rich media to create a unique user experience.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Columbia Sportswear, a global retailer of active outdoor apparel and footwear, is known for its advanced products that keep consumers warm, cool or dry. So, it’s not surprising that when Columbia launches its first e-commerce site this summer it will be using advanced technologies such as rich media, seeking to create a compelling user experience.

Columbia Sportswear’s current site at Columbia.com already incorporates such features as zoom, a sizing chart, and color swatching. But if visitors want to purchase an item, they’re referred to a store locator. The site also features videos and other information about products, including videos by George Poveromo, a well-known saltwater fisherman with a show on TV sports channel ESPN2.

Columbia will launch its first business-to-consumer site in the U.S., to be followed by e-commerce sites serving Europe and Canada. The retailer markets a wide variety of outerwear, sportswear, rugged footwear and accessories in more than 100 countries.

E-commerce technology vendor Demandware will host the site, while Columbia controls merchandising promotions, catalog, pricing and other aspects of the online shopping experience.

“Demandware provides a full-featured, proven e-commerce platform that gives us the ability to own our brand online, along with all the benefits of its on-demand model-essentially the best of both worlds,” says Kerry Barnes, Columbia’s vice president of retail.

In addition, Columbia will place e-commerce kiosks in several of its retail stores it plans to open in key metropolitan areas. Consumers will be able to order from the kiosks and this will to expand the product selection and inventory available in stores, Columbia says.

Columbia manages a portfolio of outdoor brands that include Columbia Sportswear, Mountain Hardwear, Sorel, Montrail, and Pacific Trail.

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