September 30, 2002, 12:00 AM

OshKosh B’Gosh goes for the overall site redesign

Apparel manufacturer OshKosh B’Gosh, best known for its men’s overalls and children’s clothing, used to favor page download time over product offerings. EC managers changed their minds and the redesigned site now features more products with little deterioration in load times.

Retail web sites always walk a line between amount of content on a site and download speed. And sometimes when you favor one over the other, your customers disagree. OshKosh B’Gosh Inc. decided three years ago to emphasize speed over online product assortment on its retail web site, But when the manufacturer of children’s and men’s apparel limited the number of products available for online viewing to enable faster page downloads, shoppers complained.

“Our original thinking was that by putting fewer products on the site, pages would load more quickly,” Jon Dell’Antonia, vice president of management information systems for the Oshkosh, Wis.-based company, says. “But consumers complained that there were not enough products on the site.” Even when products that shoppers wanted actually were on the site, they found it difficult to find them because they had to click through multiple pages, he adds.

As part of its ongoing retail web site redesign project started earlier this year, OshKosh B’Gosh is responding to customer feedback by displaying more products and making them easier to find within particular categories. “Sales have dramatically improved in the last couple of months,” Dell’Antonia says.

OshKosh is working on site redesign with LiveMarket, which also hosts and maintains LiveMarket is a division of Pacific Magtron International Corp., Milpitas, Calif.

A key part of the redesign so far is the display of a broad assortment of products within each category, enabling shoppers to simply scroll down a page to see everything. So far, Dell’Antonia says, OshKosh hasn’t noticed any loss of download speed on its own computers. More important, he adds, OshKosh hasn’t received complaints from customers about slower downloads. “If they have trouble shopping on our site, customers are very quick to e-mail us or our customer service department and tell us what they think,” Dell’Antonia says. “But we haven’t heard from them.”

Other changes in the works include a more elaborate left-side navigation bar that will appear on every page, making it far easier to move throughout the site, Dell’Antonia says. “We’re committed to making continued improvements,” he says.

Although it began operating in 1895 as a maker of men’s overalls, the company has focused mostly on children’s clothing throughout most of its history. But it’s now bringing back a stronger role for men’s apparel, which will be supported by a more ambitious display of men’s products, including pants, shirts and jackets, on its web site, Dell’Antonia says.

Helping to promote men’s as well as children’s and other lines, including bedding and accessories for babies, will be a revised online system of managing web site promotions. Until now, OshKosh has had to rely on its outside web site developer to create and manage online promotions, including changes to product specifications or timing of special offers. But revisions currently in the works, Dell’Antonia says, will make it easier for OshKosh employees to manage and put promotions online themselves.

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