April 29, 2004, 12:00 AM

Seventh Avenue supports web sales growth with Internet-Only category

Retailer Seventh Avenuecan’t fit everything into its catalog. An Internet-Only section of its web site lets it highlight spillover items and helps drive faster online growth.

Seventh Avenue, an online and catalog retailer of apparel, home furnishings, consumer electronics and other general merchandise, can’t fit all of its products into its catalog. But an Internet-Only section of its web site lets it highlight spillover products and, in turn, helps drive faster online growth, Hans Bernet, manager of e-commerce development, tells InternetRetailer.com.

“When we put our catalogs together, we go through a ton of products, but many get rejected even though we wish we could sell them,” Bernet says. “It might be a wonderful item, but an oddball that just doesn’t fit into the catalog.”

In the year and a half since introducing the Internet-Only section, which can be accessed from throughout the site on the left navigation bar, the option has worked well in channeling sales of items that otherwise would not have fit into the regular catalog and online display of merchandise, Bernet says. Recent merchandise in the section included a “Baker’s Rack” kitchen storage unit with built-in cabinet, shelves and stainless steel work surface, a bracelet with several sets of coordinated earrings, and a plaque commemorating the late car-racing legend Dale Earnhardt.

The Internet-Only section also serves as a market-test tool where Seventh Avenue will introduce products to see how well they sell before offering them in its regular site sections and in its catalog. Seventh Avenue also displays some Internet-exclusive products in a dedicated Personalized Items section, which sells monogrammed home furnishings and gift items.

Bernet, who oversees the web sites of SeventhAvenue.com and its six sister sites in The Swiss Colony family of retailers, says he has also introduced similar Internet-only sections to the other web sites. Although The Swiss Colony sites are privately held and don’t release sales figures or conversion rates, Bernet says the catalogs and web sites are growing overall, but that the web sites are growing at a faster rate.

His site development work combines the services of in-house web developers and web design firm Multimedia Live. In the near future, Bernet expects to introduce new style-based merchandising sections that will let shoppers select assortments of products, including home furnishings, apparel and other items, that are all related to a central theme, for example, Southwestern style, French country style, or particular colors.

The other Swiss Colony retail brands, each with its own catalog and web site, are Midnight Velvet, Ginny’s, Country Door, Monroe and Main, The Tender Filet and Swiss Colony.


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