December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

New channel, same commitment

How can a good shopping site keep getting better? Take a look at, now a two-time winner in the annual Top 25. The web channel of Seattle-based Nordstrom Inc. draws on ongoing focus group results, usability surveys and more than 20,000 customer emails each month for new ways to replicate its world-class in-store experience online.

Search speed tops’s list of recent site enhancements since it spread the high-powered search capability on its shoe site across the entire web store, brought site management and development in-house, and switched to an Alta Vista search engine. As a result, customers can find a size 8, brown, leather jacket in, for example, Calvin Klein, in about the same time as they can pop up an entire collection of women’s jackets.

And speaking of Calvin Klein, BCBG, Tahari and other upscale brands favored by Nordstrom’s shoppers, has increased both the depth and breadth of existing online brand boutiques and added new ones-again, so the web offering mirrors as closely as possible the store selection. The increase in branded fashion merchandise boosts the site’s SKU count to a whopping 330,000-plus. So to help shoppers narrow the field, new tabbed options let customers search in more ways, such as by brand, by item, and by special seasonal or promotional categories such as what’s new for the holidays. Gomez Advisors Retail Analyst Barrett Ladd gives high marks to specific new customer services features. “They’ve introduced live chat, which can be accessed from the checkout area, and they have a useful gift finder feature that lets shoppers search by price, lifestyle profile and ideas for him and her,” says Ladd. In fact, Gomez in October rated’s gift finder tops among apparel sites. The online shopping environment differs vastly from that of the brick-and-mortar world-but continues to lead the way in bridging the gap.

Seattle, Wash.

Monthly visitors: 1.6 million

Sales: $50-100 million

Went live: November 1999

Design by: In-house

OS: Windows 2000

E-C Software: MS Site Server

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