July 10, 2007, 12:00 AM

Zappos steps up to acquire 6pm.com

Zappos.com has agreed to acquire footwear and accessories site 6pm.com from eBags Inc. 6pm will migrate to Zappos’s back end system but remain a separate site with separate features.

Zappos.com has agreed to acquire footwear and accessories site 6pm.com from eBags.com, which had launched the site in November 2005. Terms of the acquisition, expected to close within three months, weren’t disclosed. The deal is the first acquisition for Zappos.com, No. 31 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites and the largest Internet shoe retailer.

“We recognize there are a variety of different types of consumers out there. Through Zappos.com and 6pm.com, we want to provide them with the online shopping experience that reflects their unique needs,” says Tony Hsieh, Zappos.com CEO.

Hsieh adds that while Zappos.com is heavily focused on customer service with features such as free overnight shipping and free return shipping, “6pm will focus on a different set of things that aren’t as service-focused, so that is the reason for continuing to operate it as a separate web site.”

6pm.com has features that aren’t on Zappos which are attractive to certain customers, Hsieh says. He declined to elaborate pending the expected close of the deal in September. However, 6pm.com has developed merchandising features including one that matches shoes with handbags, in an application that allows shoppers to search through the 6pm.com product inventory, rate and review the products they like, and view a list of personalized shoe and accessory matches based on trend, color, fabrication and brand. The feature enables customers to look at different product combinations that are also ranked and reviewed by other site visitors.

New features also will be added to 6pm, Hsieh says. “There will be some changes to the 6pm site. It is going to be migrated to our technology and back-end systems but it will continue to run as a separate site with a separate set of features,” he says.

eBags CEO Jon Nordmark says the deal will allow eBags to concentrate on its core luggage and handbag business. Nordmark says 6pm.com had quadrupled in size during the three years in which it was owned by eBags, though he did not disclose numbers. Sales for eBags, which is No. 92 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites, were estimated by Internet Retailer at approximately $124.2 million in 2006, a 20% gain over the previous year.

Besides eBags.com, eBags Inc. has operated a web site in the United Kingdom since 2004. According to eBags, its U.K. sales in luggage and bags are up 50% over the past 12 months, another reasosn it`s focusing on its core business.

The site eBags launched in Germany in 2005 has been temporarily out of operation since February as eBags addresses some logistical and operational issues, according to an eBags spokeswoman. eBags also currently operates web sites for luggage manufacturer Tumi in the U.S., Germany and Japan.

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