E-Mail Effort Highlights Rising Shoe Sales at Bostonproper.com

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An e-mail campaign sent to nearly 80,000 Bostonproper.com visitors last month boosted the retailer's online shoe sales 12 percent, part of an overall increase in sales at the Web site.


Of the shoes sold, 25 percent were attributed directly to two styles -- a macramé wedge for $49 and sequin sandals for $69.


The e-mail, sent to visitors who requested e-mail promotions, offered free shipping with purchases of $150 or more.


The e-mail increased the average order size by 40 percent, said Rachel Pappert, director of e-commerce/marketing at The Mark Group, the title owner of Boston Proper, Boca Raton, FL. Pappert declined to give the average order size.


"What we found is shoes are [selling] considerably higher on the Web than they are in the catalog," she said. "Somehow the way we are displaying [shoes] on the Web is really powerful and is leading to a consistently higher [unit per transaction] number."


The campaign generated more demand than any other e-mail campaign conducted by Bostonproper.com since the site launched in late 1999. As of January, the site commanded 17 percent of overall brand sales in 2000, up 3 percentage points from when the site debuted.


Selling footwear online or by catalog is not easy, as people generally are comfortable distance-buying only well-known brands that they know will fit. Pappert thinks shoes sell at Bostonproper.com because the site offers a mixture of apparel. People usually buy shoes to complement an outfit.


Pappert also credits the rise in sales of shoes and accessories to the layout of the Web site, which offers cross-selling of featured items. The site replicates a boutique shopping experience in that when a visitor clicks on an item, accessories, shoes or another piece of clothing will appear to complement it, she said.


"We had our merchants personally choose the cross-sells that we were going to show with each item, as opposed to letting the preference of a computer program or what the last customer purchased determine what the next customer saw," Pappert said.


Though the site is producing the desired results, she said the e-tailer is gearing for a revamp, which could happen later this year.


"There are many things on the current site that we're keeping," she said. "We're looking at this as an enhancement to the site that we've worked so hard on. We're trying to create a Boston Proper that our customers really want. The site will look pretty much the way it does now but with some enhancements."


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