Bergdorf Goodman Unwraps Site for Holidays

Bergdorf Goodman Inc. has finally embraced the Internet with an online presence designed to retain its aura of luxury and indulgence.

The site at comes exactly three years after the New York retailer debuted a lavish quarterly magazine combining merchandise with lifestyle. Initially informational, the site will entertain transactions next fall after a year of observation.

“This has always been the plan,” said Michael Calman, Bergdorf's senior vice president of marketing. “We wanted to get the magazine firmly entrenched and to build off of that.”

The magazine now has a circulation of 300,000, mostly mailed but also in hotels and Bergdorf's two Fifth Avenue stores. Male and female models dominate the pages, looking sultry, broody, rugged or nonchalant in designer-brand apparel and accessories from Bergdorf's stores.

In line with that thinking, the site's men's and women's sections pull images and content from the Bergdorf magazine. Included is a sampling of the designer collections accompanied by pages on shoes, jewelry, accessories, handbags and cosmetics.

A third area, called Very Bergdorf, is the online embodiment of the retailer's holiday gifts catalog circulated in the men's and women's stores. Not surprisingly, the gifts are as expensive as they are esoteric.

For example, a set of six full-lead crystal liqueur glasses with 18k gold detailing from Moser costs $750, and Paul Morelli 18k gold chandelier earrings run $1,975. For those wishing to avoid water stains on oak floors, there is the Fornasetti ceramic umbrella holder in the shape of a classic Roman foot for $495.

And for shoppers not warm enough, there is a Cassin fur capelet for $1,750 or Luciano Barbera men's gloves in pieced brown mink for $525.

There is also a beauty section mirroring a print holiday catalog dedicated to cosmetics and perfumes.

The site soon will let customers check the number of points accumulated in their rewards program. It currently offers only information on the rewards program.

Visitors who cannot wait to buy online till next fall are encouraged to call the Bergdorf order line listed on the site or visit the stores. The retailer will update the site to accommodate new schedules, seasons and collections.

As a division of Irving, TX-based Neiman Marcus Group, Bergdorf shares its back-end online infrastructure with, a site run by Neiman Marcus Direct. Once its site goes transactional, Bergdorf will leverage Neiman's order-taking, processing and fulfillment platform.

Bergdorf's first brush with online marketing began a year and a half ago. A weekly e-mail program took root, announcing in-store events and merchandise launches. Events and client servicing generated e-mail addresses. The goal was to build and nurture an online database.

That database-building objective carries over to Consumers can sign up not just for the magazine, but also submit their e-mail addresses for invitations to designer personal appearances and trunk shows.

Furthermore, they can confirm their attendance by e-mail to any of the events listed in the designated events section. Here, details like dates, times and locations are listed.

Meanwhile, satisfied by the e-mail program, Bergdorf partnered last fall in its first online shopping alliance with CondeNet's The duo hosted an online trunk show for Marc Jacobs.

Essentially, visitors could reserve showcased Marc Jacobs items by filling out an order form on A confirmation led to fulfillment by one of Bergdorf's personal shoppers.

For its latest initiative, Bergdorf will pull all marketing strings. The site's address gets plugs in company direct mail, in-store signage, magazine and the store catalogs. Bergdorf ads in newspapers and magazines will also drive traffic.

And starting in the spring, banner ads will run on fashion and newsmagazine Web sites. E-mails will continue to support.

Bergdorf handles marketing and site development inhouse. This is in line with the company's philosophy on controlling the environment around its brand to deliver the customer service its clientele expects.

Bergdorf's typical customers are much-traveled, affluent and skewed to women in their mid-30s to 40s and often older. But one would not guess that by looking at the photographs splashed across or the magazine. No gray hair or wrinkles appear in the Bergdorf marketing world.

“We don't market on the basis of an age demographic,” Calman said. “We have 11 selling floors between the two buildings in New York. The target does skew from floor to floor. But it's much more of a psychographic approach based on their attitudes and fashion sensibility.

“Our core customer,” he said, “has a younger-thinking attitude.”

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