December 7, 2007, 12:00 AM

Shoe retailer DSW to take a run at e-commerce

Though the specialty shoe retailer isn’t providing many details, DSW president Peter Horvath tells analysts that its e-commerce site will go live in the first half of 2008. DSW has already spent almost $8 million developing an e-commerce infrastructure.

Specialty shoe retailer DSW Inc. will launch its first-ever comprehensive e-commerce site next year.

Though the retailer isn’t providing many details, DSW president Peter Horvath told analysts on the company’s recent third quarter earnings call that its e-commerce site will go live in the first half of 2008. “We are on track to launch e-commerce,” Horvath told analysts. “We understand that multi-channel customers represent significant growth potential for DSW and we are excited by the prospect of combining e-commerce with our successful and growing loyalty program.” DSW does offer some limited e-commerce capability now. Customers have the option to purchase gift cards online.

DSW is investing heavily in the web and e-commerce technology. The company has already spent almost $8 million developing an e-commerce infrastructure, according to DSW’s recently filed quarterly earnings reports. More spending is also on the way. “To support our long term growth we invested $30 million in capital expenditures during the third quarter, approximately half was for new and remodeled stores with the balance primarily for information technology infrastructure and our e-commerce business,” DSW chief financial officer Douglas Probst told analysts.

DSW, which operates 255 stores in 35 states, will be entering a lucrative, but competitive, web sales niche. Online footwear sales are growing nearly 15% annually and will become a $5.5 billion market by 2010, according to Forrester Research Inc.

But the market is also drawing new competitors. In October 2006, Gap Inc. launched PiperLime.com as an online shoe store. And in September, Casual Male Retail Group Inc. launched ShoesXL.com.

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