November 21, 2008, 12:00 AM

Apparel & Accessories

(Page 6 of 9) also offers extensive use of rich media. Mousing over images lets shoppers instantly zoom into product details. And they can click to see how jeans fit on models from the front, side and back. These and other improvements have led to a 40% increase in the number of shoppers carting products, and a 19% increase in the number of carted products that get purchased, Varni says. also offers a Fit Guide for helping shoppers match their body type to several available cuts ranging from slim to loose. The guide is a work in progress, Varni says.

On that note, Paula Rosenblum, managing director of research at Retail Systems Research LLC, says the Fit Guide is an example of where can improve on product selection and rich media. “The whole Fit Guide is interesting, but I felt like it was to be expected, nothing out of the ordinary,” she says.

But the Fit Guide, like other parts of, will continue to improve, Varni says.

“More rich content is on the way,” she says. “Giving consumers the most information and making it easy for them to find the perfect pair of jeans leaves them feeling good about our brand.” Back to top

Style + substance
American Eagle Inc.’s new brand and web site takes its name from early photographers, filmmakers and explorers Martin and Osa Johnson. But the site offers technology and imagery that are quantum leaps ahead of the jumpy, grainy adventure films that brought the Kansas duo to prominence in the 1930s. On the web site, video is seamlessly integrated to show off the site’s trendy but informal clothing and accessories that the company calls “refined casual.”

Visitors can click on a Shop by Outfit feature, either for men or women’s clothing, and see a page with a dozen models who come to life, moving, turning, even flirting with the viewers as they show off the clothing. As the visitor filters the products, such as by “classic” or “texture,” the models wearing other types of apparel stroll off the page.

“It’s an effective interaction that should translate into longer page views,” says Brandon Merritt, senior experience design specialist at Internet marketing firm Molecular Inc. “The layout and navigation of the site offers a fresh approach. The visual language of bold images, straight lines, and plenty of open space help tie the in-store and online experiences together.”

Interactive components also include a Layer Your Own Look widget that allows visitors to drag and drop outfit combinations onto a mannequin so they can see how various pieces of clothing look together. Customers can view pricing and other product details and click to make purchases without leaving the page.

The web site, launched this year, also reduces clicks by allowing customers to view color swatches of different items on main category pages. For example, a shopper searching in the knits and tees category can see which items are available in red or white without having to go to product pages.

Martin + Osa also offers other user-friendly features, such as saving items in the shopping bag for customers who leave the site and return later. “An innovative customer experience, smart options for selecting outfits, and clever ways of keeping their audience’s attention has helped push past their primary competitors,” says Merritt. Back to top

One step beyond
In the realm of online product configurators, already was a front runner. Site visitors could use the tool at the center of the site to visualize an enormous number of color and graphical options to build the athletic shoe of their dreams. This year, added new design options; enhanced imaging functionality; introduced a community aspect; and rolled out more NikeiD Studios, a concept that puts the digital shoe configurator into NikeiD stores.

“We believe we are a brand that stands for innovation,” says DJ van Hameren, Nike’s general manager of global digital commerce.

This year that meant refinements to the shoe builder. NikeiD has added to the right-hand navigation, which propels shoppers through a list of customizable elements, a second design option for those preferring a free-flowing approach. Shoppers can now choose to click on any element of a pictured shoe in any order to apply their own choices. A graphic bar displays progress toward completion, and a What’s Left link lists shoe elements that still need to be selected.

Image functionality has been enhanced to a level that seeks to mimic live interaction with the product. A new design search feature displays tens of thousands of designs created by consumers willing to share. It lets shoppers specify parameters-a red and green color combination, for example-and call up already-created designs that match.

The site is effective at exposing consumers to an incredibly broad number of design possibilities while making the design experience fun, says Lauren Freedman, president of retail consultancy The E-Tailing Group. Freedman also praises product imagery and the community feature the brand has added to the site.

NikeiD also has rolled out close to 30 NikeiD studios, and the brand is developing a program that will bring the NikeiD studio to outside events and locations.

The shoe builder, according to van Hameren, is giving the Nike brand an incredible amount of information on consumer preferences. “For us,” he says, “this is an opportunity to be the most relevant brand to athletes and style-conscious consumers around the world.” Back to top

Designed to the Nines
Nine West may be known for shoes, but the home page at sends two clear messages: that the retailer offers much more than stilettos and wedges, and that it’s serious about e-commerce.
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