November 21, 2008, 12:00 AM redesigns site to show expanded selection this month launched a redesigned site that features sophisticated search and merchandising tools to help shoppers navigate its growing inventory of baby clothing, strollers, car seats and related items.

The transformation from a basic, plain vanilla e-commerce site offering a limited number of products to a more sophisticated online store offering thousands of products is never an easy task. For, launched in 2005 as a site where parents could purchase diapers, wipes, formula and other consumables, that transformation began with a web site relaunch earlier this month.

The redesign sets the stage for to offer the same breadth of products as the e-commerce site of major retail chain Babies ‘R’ Us within the next 12 to 15 months, says Vinit Bharara, chief operating officer of 1800Diapers Inc., which operates Toys ‘R’ Us Inc., the parent company of Babies ‘R’ Us, is No. 43 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide; is No. 231. realized that the basic search and merchandising functions of the original site weren’t compatible with plans to make the site a one-stop shop for all baby products, including baby clothing and shoes, car seats, strollers and a host of other items.

“The web site before really didn’t allow for easy navigation of the breadth of products, so as we added products, we needed to change the structure of the site,” Bharara says. “The very premise of our web site is on being a lifesaver for moms, to make life a little bit easier for them.”

On the original site, customers scrolled down a navigation bar on the left side of the home page, which listed every product sold on the site, Bharara says. “As we added hundreds of products, we couldn’t have a scroll-down function that goes down basically miles,” he says.

On the redesigned site, customers can search for items by brands, for “Essentials” such as diapering and baby-proofing, or for top-rated products. In addition, a bar across the top of the home page offers drop-down menus under broad categories such as Diapering, Feeding & Nursing, Playtime & Books, and Clothing & Shoes.

Using search and merchandising tools from Mercado, now part of Omniture, provides personalized product recommendations and search results that direct parents to age-specific offerings for babies and toddlers. Shoppers personalize searches by the baby’s age or due date. The redesigned site also offers a quick shop function for repeat purchases, such as formula or diapers.

“This quick shop function allows you to have right on your fingertips, right on the home page, all the products that you purchased before, so you can quickly re-order those items,” Bharara says.

There are also easy-to-enlarge product images, scrolling merchandising zones and pop-up shopping pages and carts. Parents also can read reviews by other parents to identify the best products for their child.

The redesign makes a very user-friendly site, says Lauren Freedman, president of the E-tailing Group Inc. “It’s a very efficient site in terms of the approach they take,” she says.

The redesigned site also does a good job of integrating products with informational content on the site, Freedman says, and allows customers to navigate by brand in each product category. “That’s very smart,” Freedman says. “People in this category relate to the brand.”

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