May 29, 2009, 12:00 AM

Stars of e-retailing

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Costco drove web sales higher in 2008 by doing a better job of reaching out to its best, affluent customers with more personalized and targeted e-mail and print marketing campaigns, the retailer says. Costco now carries about 4,000 products online.


The web did what stores couldn’t for Macy’s in 2008: generate sales increases. Macy’s online sales grew 28% in 2008 while total sales were down 5.4% and comparable-store sales were down 4.6%. Macy’s didn’t break out dollar numbers for online sales, but the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide estimated Macy’s 2007 web sales at $812.2 million. Growth of 28% put’s 2008 sales at $1.04 billion, an increase of about $230 million. Total sales in 2008 equaled $24.89 billion versus $26.31 billion in 2007.

Macy’s has invested $300 million in its direct marketing channel in recent years, including various upgrades to both and In 2008 Macy’s began updating stores with web-enabled POS terminals, improved the Find It In Store application, and upgraded with speedier checkout, better images and updated style guides.


For the 2008 fiscal year, VistaPrint increased web sales by 56.6% to $400.7 million from $255.9 million in fiscal 2007. VistaPrint used updated web site features and new business development to drive growth. Last year VistaPrint upgraded its design gallery of templates that customers use to create personalized business cards and stationery. The new gallery helped VistaPrint acquire 4.5 million customers overall and double daily orders to about 33,000.

The company also is expanding internationally, recently announcing plans to change its place of incorporation from Bermuda to the Netherlands and to set up a new senior management office in Paris.


The chain retailer won’t talk publically about e-commerce, but the fact that the Internet was the only growth driver in 2008 speaks volumes about the web’s strategic importance to Kohl’s. While comparable-store sales declined by 6.9% and total revenue remained flat at about $16.4 billion, e-commerce sales at Kohl’s increased by 58.9% to $356 million in 2008 from $224 million in 2007.

To generate sales, Kohl’s updated its e-commerce program last year with discounts of 50% and higher on multiple items and increased the number of daily web specials. Kohl’s also expanded its e-commerce site to include an interactive dressing room that lets shoppers view apparel worn by famous models, mix and match clothes and accessories using product zoom, and complete an online purchase.

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