Macy's Upgrades Web Site for Holiday Push

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To meet the anticipated jump in online shopping this holiday season and beyond, Macy's announced yesterday that it has teamed up with IBM to relaunch an upgraded version of its Web site, www.macys.com, that will offer a greater selection of products and special services than its predecessor.


Macys.com is the latest component in the company's strategy to bring its merchandise to consumers through alternative formats -- it launched the Macy's By Mail catalog in August. The new site initially will offer 250,000 items, which represents roughly 10 percent of its instore inventory, according to Macys.com president Kent Anderson.


"This is not an online catalog. It's designed to be an online store that replicates the department store experience," Anderson said.


The site will be featured in a national advertising campaign that kicks off during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and will include TV, print and direct mail statement inserts. Macys.com also will be featured in IBM's new e-business campaign that uses examples of companies that maintain a successful e-commerce operation.


Online advertising, which is being handled by the agency Leftfield, San Francisco, will consist of an anchor placement on America Online's shopping channel, the creation of a Macy's key word at various search engines and the display of 140 million banner ads by the end of the year.


Macy's, New York, started selling merchandise online in 1996 and used its original site to test consumer demand and acceptance of e-commerce. It expects the updated site will attract younger consumers who would typically not visit the company's retail stores and consumers in the 29 states where the company does not maintain stores. Eighty percent of the online merchandise comes from national brands and the remainder from Macy's private labels.


By upgrading its e-commerce capabilities now, Macy's is attempting to get a jump on the rest of the department store industry.


"If you use bookselling as an example, branding is pretty important on the Web," said Karl Salnoske, general manager of e-commerce for IBM. "This kind of commitment by Macy's to lead the way is an important strategic move.''


Macys.com is designed for easy navigation and offers special functions to make first-time Web shoppers feel confident about making purchases. The gift wizard acts like a search engine to present 36 targeted gift suggestions based on a shopper's specifications. The "For You'' function groups related merchandise to streamline the creation of wardrobe. The site will also host Macy's expanded online Bridal Registry.


The E-Club gives consumers a way to store the dates of special events, mailing addresses, and other pertinent shopping information. They can also opt-in to receive e-mail messages.


Macys.com will process orders through two fulfillment centers and its stores. It plans to ship merchandise via UPS within 72 hours of the order.
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