June 22, 2001, 12:00 AM

Jos. A. Banks improves speed, navigation on updated web site

Catalog migration and incremental sales are expected to boost web to 4% of sales this year.

Multi-channel classic apparel retailer Jos. A. Banks Clothiers Inc. this week launched an updated web site to handle Internet sales that grew by 188% in 2000 over the previous year. The site, which lightened up page weights to speed download times and improved navigation to make searching and buying easier, supports web sales expected to double from last year’s 2% of sales of $206 million to 4% of sales this year.

“We’re getting a lot of migration from our catalog,” says Jerry DeBoer, senior vice president of marketing. The Internet is also driving incremental sales -- 42% of the company’s customers who shopped the web site last year hadn’t previously shopped the company’s other channels

Yet the increase in web sales has sparked no immediate plans to cut down on the 8 million catalogs the company mails each year. “Our Internet business is still so small; we don’t want to make generalizations yet about what impact the web has. Even though the Internet is growing by leaps and bounds, we don’t want to change our strategy and cut catalogs expecting to make it up on the Internet,” DeBoer says.

He notes that many customers use the catalog for research and the web to place orders. “I’m not so sure they would buy as much without the catalog,” he says. “When you’re buying a $600 suit, it’s nice to see a glossy picture of it.” Catalog customers also walk into stores with the catalog to purchase, he adds, suggesting that not only does the catalog help drive Internet sales, but store sales as well. “What we don’t know yet is the impact of the Internet on the stores. As we grown, we’ll learn more,” he says.

But Banks already is using one store-web connection as a CRM tool. A new program encourages in-store sales associates to collect customers` e-mail addresses at purchase time. That generates thank-you e-mail to the customer the next day, replacing the time-consuming handwritten notes associates send out after major purchases.


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