Federated Direct Tweaks Bloomingdales.com, Macys.com to Align With Stores

Federated Direct is overhauling its e-commerce businesses even as parent Federated Department Stores Inc. is struggling to keep retail sales from falling lower in a slowing economy.

The effort for bloomingdales.com is focused on site enhancements for holiday shopping and gift giving, while macys.com has won itself a complete makeover. Both changes aim to leverage the retail stores for boosting online sales.

Such changes reflect Federated Direct's work on e-commerce during the past year. In that period, the macys.com and Macy's By Mail operations were consolidated, e-commerce merchandizing strategy redefined and new technology and creative introduced.

“This really is a culmination of all these things positioning us to achieve the objectives that we have, which is to make the branding and the experience consistent with the overall look and feel of the store brands,” said Dawn Robertson, president of Federated Direct, New York.

Continuing its positioning as a top gift destination for the holiday shopper, bloomingdales.com will prepare for the fourth quarter with a host of upgrades and additions.

The changes include a new Top Ten Gifts section that will offer bloomingdales.com visitors a range of gift lists. These include the Top Ten Most Popular, Top Ten Gifts Under $100 and Top Ten Only @ Bloomingdale's.

Consumers also will be able to beam the lists to their hand-held devices via an interactive display at the Bloomingdale's flagship store on 59th Street and Lexington Avenue in New York.

In another initiative that melds the flagship store with the online shop, Internet consumers will be walked through the process of dressing up Bloomingdale's windows. Window designers will explain the process, from the theme and merchandise selections through the finishing touches.

An online Webcast will make this behind-the-scenes look possible.

Among other tweaks, bloomingdales.com will create a new holiday home planning section for holiday trends and will offer tips on home furnishing, decorating and party planning. These trends will be reflected in the holiday shop.

Other new features on bloomingdales.com include wish lists that allow consumers to share gift ideas and add items while browsing. These wish lists can be accessed only after registering at the site, and they can be e-mailed to family and friends.

The changes for bloomingdales.com will go into effect this fall, Robertson said.

Macys.com, on the other hand, was completely overhauled. Consumer feedback drove such changes as an expanded collection of designer boutiques and more powerful and integrated shopping tools. Consumers will be able to better accessorize apparel, give gifts and compare items.

New navigation has accelerated the registration process, allowing consumers to receive e-mail updates of Macy's and macys.com offers and events.

Online customer service options also have been beefed up, supported by more informative company information sections.

The changes come in the middle of one of the most trying times for Federated Department Stores. The Cincinnati retailer said in a statement yesterday that sales for the five weeks that ended July 7 were $1.405 billion, down 10.4 percent from $1.568 billion during the same period last year.

Federated said the sales numbers reflected the “strategic downsizing” of subsidiary Fingerhut Cos. and the closure of the Stern's retail chain division. It also said June comparable sales for stores open at least a year were down 6.4 percent.

The retailer is making sure to remind employees of falling sales. In the employee entrance to the flagship Bloomingdale's store in New York, a poster on the wall says in bold writing that the store last month faced a shortfall of $8.7 million, with a breakdown by the day and by the minute.

E-commerce sales for Federated Direct's Bloomingdale's and Macy's properties were not broken down separately for the five weeks that ended July 7. But Robertson said Federated Direct is expected this year to record $200 million to $250 million in e-commerce revenue.

The changes on bloomingdales.com and macys.com, mainly to improve the online shopping experience, are meant to help meet that revenue goal.

“And these changes really support that as much as offset a challenge that we had,” Robertson said. “Over the year we learned how to sell apparel online as well as home product. And these changes that we're making to the site and with the whole Internet strategy show our continued commitment to this multichannel strategy.”

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