Green eggs and pants

Jun 01, 1999 9:30 PM  By

Esprit, a San Francisco-based apparel manufacturer/marketer, has tapped into the online market with two separate ventures. In November 1998, its year-old flagship Website, Esprit.com, went transactional. The same month, the $300 million Esprit relaunched Seusswear.com, an Internet catalog of licensed Dr. Seuss apparel and accessories.

Esprit was named the exclusive licensee of Dr. Seuss apparel, footwear, and accessories in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand in 1994. While Seusswear.com features links to Esprit.com, the sites are not otherwise connected. Esprit had sold its Seuss Wear products primarily through department stores, even after launching Seusswear.com in April 1997. “But the site was up for only about six months,” says Bill Lampl, president of the Dr. Seuss by Esprit division. “We weren’t pleased with its functionality or design, so we pulled it down, changed the graphics and design, made it more user-friendly, and relaunched it a year later.” Lampl says that response to the relaunched site has been excellent. “Our February sales actually exceeded our holiday sales,” he says, thought he won’t disclose figures. Lampl says the site’s average order is $40; the price range of products is $5-$300.

Esprit’s reasons for taking its Seuss Wear products online illustrate the Web’s marketing strengths. “The Website allows us to communicate directly with the consumer,” Lampl says, enabling Esprit to create a database of online customer information, culled from answers to questionnaires featured on the Website. “And the site provides us an opportunity to sell products that didn’t get picked up by stores.”

Esprit.com followed on the heels of Esprit’s print catalog, which was relaunched in October 1997. According to Shana Huntington, Website manager for Esprit.com, the company launched an informational Website in fall 1997 and decided to implement e-commerce after they saw an increase in traffic. While Huntington won’t disclose any numbers, she says that since the launch ofthe Web catalog, the site has exceeded traffic expectations. As for sales, the average order is $90; prices range from $5 to $200.

Huntington says Esprit may introduce real-time inventory and order status to the Website, and might add music to enhance the shopping experience. But there are no plans to merge the Esprit and Seuss Wear sites. “In general, people don’t really connect the two,” Huntington says.