Boston Proper clicks with new site

May 15, 2005 9:30 PM  By

Considering that the initial Website of Boca Raton, FL-based Boston Proper was little more than an online order form, the $60 million-plus women’s apparel marketer cataloger/retailer has come a long way in the six years since.

“Before, our Website could handle only the basics,” says director of e-commerce Margaret Moraskie. Even the second- and third-generation sites, though e-commerce-enabled with a fully functional shopping cart, couldn’t handle extremely busy periods during peak hours.

But that’s in the past. In February, the company relaunched its Website (now in its fourth generation), and it has already seen an 8% increase in online sales. The Web now accounts for 42% of Boston Proper’s sales; the catalog accounts for the remaining 58%.

What’s more, the average online order is 2%-5% higher than the average catalog order, which the company attributes to the Website’s cross-selling and upselling functions. Using an e-commerce package from Petaluma, CA-based Web development firm MarketLive, Boston Proper’s e-commerce team can select and post product cross-sells and promotions in seconds without the help of the IT department.

Boston Proper used to modify its apparel collection online twice a year; the new e-commerce program enables it to react faster to emerging fashion trends. Products from any category can easily be grouped into a new category or to create a theme. So when Boston Proper sees that peasant skirts are hot sellers, for instance, it can quickly group complementary products within minutes rather than hours.

“We can now make changes in 15 minutes without bringing down the site,” Moraskie says. “That was near impossible in the old Website.” Previously Boston Proper had to wait till late at night, when traffic was lightest, to modify the Website.

Boston Proper’s staff aren’t the only ones to find the new site easier. Customers can now get to products with fewer clicks, Moraskie says, thanks to more-specific categories, such as “sleeveless shirts” rather than one category that brought up all the shirts.

Boston Proper licenses the software from MarketLive, paying an annual licensing fee based on online revenue. Boston Proper also pays the vendor for Web hosting and related services, such as security audits and daily backups. Pricing for the services depends on the number of servers and shared or dedicated firewalls and databases.

Next on Boston Proper’s e-commerce agenda: affiliate marketing and search engine optimization, both of which it plans to implement later on this year. Before, other than e-mail marketing, Moraskie says, “we couldn’t do any Web advertising at all.”