August 31, 2009, 12:00 AM

Powell’s Books redesigns web site and management team

The book retailer is planning to redesign its retail web site to improve the shopping experience while transitioning to a management team headed by vice president Emily Powell, whose father, Michael Powell, will retire next year as president.

Powell’s Books Inc., a chain of six retail stores in Portland, OR, is planning to redesign its retail web site to improve the shopping experience while transitioning to a management team headed by vice president Emily Powell, whose father, Michael Powell, the company`s founder, will retire next year as president.

“We have almost 100 ideas about how to improve our e-commerce site,” Emily Powell says. Among the improvements that will be rolled out on Powells.com over the next several months include improved site search and navigation, a streamlined checkout process and new promotions like free-shipping offers, she says.

Powell’s also has established three new e-commerce positions. Emily Powell will fill the new position of e-commerce store manager, and Amy Goodman, technology manager. The retailer is also looking to fill the new position of e-commerce marketing manager.

David Weich, who had helped grow Powells.com as marketing and development director, has resigned.

Key to the overall redesign, Powell adds, is offering online the in-store shopping experience on which the Powell’s retail chain has built its reputation. “Our stores offer the wonderful process of discovery as shoppers wander and look for books, and our idea now is to accomplish that shopping experience online,” she says.

In Powell’s stores, for example, a shopper looking for a book about cars might find one in a section next to travel, which might be next to a section on learning a foreign language. That experience of discovering things to read as a shopper moves about a store will become part of the online shopping experience as well, Powell says.

Powell’s, which does about 25% of total sales online and is No. 364 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, will continue to operate on an in-house e-commerce platform as it designs new shopping features with in-house technology, Powell says.

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