The growing number of influential Weibo commentators are increasingly opening their own online shops or promoting products.
The sites feature Gap’s universal shopping cart and shipping to nine countries.
Gap Inc. launched dedicated e-commerce sites for U.K.-based customers of the company’s Gap and Banana Republic apparel brands last week. The launch followed just days after the company launched dedicated e-commerce sites for its Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy brands to Canadian consumers and weeks after the retailer extended shipping to 55 countries for products purchased on its U.S.-based brand sites. Gap reported $1.12 billion in web sales in 2009 and is No. 23 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.
Gap.eu and BananaRepublic.eu ship only to U.K. addresses now but will ship to Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands beginning this fall. These countries are in addition to those added earlier this month for purchases made from U.S. e-commerce sites.
The U.K. and Canadian sites use the same universal shopping platform concept as do the U.S. sites; the platform allows shoppers visiting one brand site to click on a tab at the top of the page to visit other brand sites without typing in the brand web site address. The sites also feature a universal shopping cart so that merchandise can be purchased across brands and shipped with one order. The Canadian sites are available in English and French.
In the U.K., Gap ships purchases for a flat rate of 4 British pounds (US$6.18 via DHL from an in-country distribution center. Consumers can make free returns via Royal Mail or return products to retail stores. Canadian orders ship for the flat rate of 8 Canadian dollars (US$7.60) via Canada Post from a distribution center in Bolton, ON, with free returns via Canada Post or in-store. Neither of the international sites accepts store credit cards or gift cards for online purchases. A company spokeswoman says store-brand Gap Inc. credit cards are not available to consumers in the U.K. or Canada and that the company will maintain payment form consistency between the e-commerce sites and retail stores. She says payment with gift cards will be added to the Canadian e-commerce site soon.
Gap’s international push will continue. The company previously announced it would open retail stores in China, Italy and Australia by the end of the year. The company reported $14.2 billion in total sales last year.