Some retailers launched online deals well in advance of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
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.