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Fredericks.com Romances Shoppers

Fredericks.com, the Web site of Frederick's of Hollywood, has added a new element to its risqué line of lingerie and party attire — Frederick's Flowers.

That's only one part of the company's plans to make its Web site the ultimate shopping destination for romance this Valentine's Day. The site will soon include other goodies such as chocolates, wine, books and even travel.

“This is the first of many additions to the site,” said Gary Landry, president/CEO of fredericks.com.

“This year we want shoppers to go to one location for their Valentine's Day needs,” he said, adding that the new additions seemed the logical step in offering items related to romance.

Frederick's Flowers launched two weeks ago as a test run, Landry said, and he expects the addition to be permanent. Figures were not available, however. The other new elements will be added to the site throughout the year.

Customers who click on Frederick's Flowers are taken to another page that shows three floral arrangements provided to fredericks.com by proflowers.com. If visitors want to see additional selections, they can click another command that will take them to proflowers.com as a Frederick's visitor, Landry said.

Customers can also enter to win a three-day getaway to San Francisco or Las Vegas. The sweepstakes package includes plane tickets, hotel and $1,000 in spending money.

Fredericks.com is promoting the sweepstakes and Frederick's Flowers through its Star Club, which functions similarly to its catalog's house lists. Visitors join the club and can receive e-mail once a week about special merchandise and promotional items from Frederick's. It also has placed promotions in its Spring Preview 2001 catalog, which has been mailed to 5.2 million people.

The idea to add the goodies came after Frederick's of Hollywood's decision to revamp the Web site, which launched in 1996. Frederick's of Hollywood, Los Angeles, relaunched the site in October last year. The revamped site offers a new look and easier navigating.

“We've evolved from the basic thumbnail pictures,” Landry said. “Before you had to go from picture to picture and screen to screen, using eight to 10 clicks before getting an item into a shopping bag. That was too cumbersome. We now have pull-down navigation, which customers have taken to.

“We've evolved that one step further and put all the categories in a navigation bar high up on the page,” he said. “If you mouse over the categories, whatever you're looking for, you can get there pretty quickly with the fewest clicks possible.”

Fredericks.com also plugged in other elements to make the site usable and appealing. It now offers previews of seasonal items available in upcoming catalogs, and it uses a bolder, stronger center image to promote certain catalog items. The item changes weekly, but it could change daily if there is a large fashion turnover, Landry said.

Before the revamp, Fredericks.com averaged 5,000 to 8,000 unique visitors a day. The site now averages 16,000 to 20,000 unique visitors daily. Landry would not say by what percentage sales have increased, but he said sales from August to December last year were $2 million more than the company's projections. The bulk of the sales increase happened after the site was revamped, he said.

The Web site also saw holiday shopping sales increase by more than 90 percent from the previous year.

Indeed, a Web site's relaunch can often result in a 50 percent increase in the number of visitors. In some cases, revamped e-commerce sites have experienced sales increases of 400 percent, said Jakob Nielsen, principal and co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group, a user-experience think tank and consulting firm in Silicon Valley.

Nielsen said that when Web sites initially launch, they often present designs that are confusing for users, who have difficulty finding products.

“The first Web site a company does is almost always bad, and that's why we get this need for redesign,” Nielsen said. “They had to first release the bad site that didn't work and then realize that, 'Oops, there is such a thing as usability as well, and we have to make it easier to use and appealing.' “

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