December 5, 2013, 4:00 PM

Women’s apparel seller Cato joins the e-commerce world

The retail chain operates some 1,100 stores in 32 U.S. states.

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Just call it fashionably late: The Cato Corp., which operates some 1,100 U.S. stores that sell women’s clothes—and which opened its doors in 1946, the year after World War II ended—has launched an e-commerce site.

The chain, which has stores in 32 states, says it developed the site with Celerant Technology Corp.

The site, while certainly late to the e-commerce party, hardly seems behind the times. Catofashions.com today promoted $6.95 flat-rate shipping, links to its Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram pages, and a behind-the-scenes video look at the making of the chain’s holiday commercial.

“We are thrilled to enter the world of e-commerce,” says John Cato, Cato’s chairman, president and CEO. “This significant milestone fully rounds out our services and offerings. Now our customers have the opportunity to access our fashions and accessories at any time from the comfort of their own devices.”

Cato is hardly the only longstanding retail chain to embrace e-commerce in recent months.

In September, Stein Mart Inc., which sells off-price fashion and housewares in stores in some 260 stores in 29 U.S. states, launched its e-commerce site. Stein Mart traces its roots to 1908—the word “launch” hardly seems appropriate when talking about that top-coat-and-tails era, when the Ford Model T was starting to come off the line. The Stein Mart e-commerce launch followed this year’s introduction of U.S. e-commerce by Swedish retail chain Hennes & Mauritz AB, better known as apparel retailer H&M.

Other retailers have recently returned to selling online. Off-price apparel retailer T.J. Maxx made its return to online retail in September, six years after abandoning e-commerce.

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