Target and Toys R Us posted overall sales declines during the holidays.
Aided by new site features such as an online merchandise reservation tool, Talbots grew its first-half web sales to $51 million, compared to $41 million for the first half of 2004, an increase of 24%.
The Internet accounted for just over 40% of all direct marketing sales at The Talbots Inc. during the first six months of 2005. For the period January through June, the Internet generated sales of $51 million or about 41% of all direct marketing sales.
In comparison, Talbots, No. 85 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Guide to Retail Web Sites, had web sales of $40.6 million for the first half of 2004, which accounted for 35% of all direct market sales.
Direct marketing sales, which include catalog and Internet, in the first half of 2005 were $129.2 million compared to $116.1 million in the first half of 2004, an increase of $13.1 million or 11.3%, Talbots says in its recently filed second quarter report with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Though e-commerce is a growing channel for Talbots, the company also uses the web to drive multi-channel sales. In May, Talbots introduced Style Search, a new online service that allows customers to search and find items on Talbots.com, find available merchandise and reserve the item for pick up at a nearby Talbots store. Style Search identifies the stores that carry merchandise selected by customers within a 50-mile radius of their ZIP Code and gives them the option of reserving the merchandise at a store near them.
Style Search was piloted in the fall of 2004 and rolled out nationally in the spring. The service provides customers with a detailed list of up to 10 local or regional stores identified as carrying the merchandise they select, along with the option of reserving those items at a local store at no charge.
Customers who choose to reserve merchandise receive a follow-up e-mail and a personal phone call from the selected store to confirm that the items are on hold. If the merchandise is not available at any store within the 50-mile radius, customers may widen their store search area, search for the item in another size or color, or purchase it online.