IMPROVING UPON A CLASSIC

The venerable Brooks Brothers brand is synonymous with classic, timeless apparel. So you might not expect the New York-based cataloger/retailer to be on the cutting edge of e-commerce. But the company, which went online in August 1998, relaunched its site in late October with a number of up-to-the-minute functions.

Among the features on the site are an improved “gift finder,” searchable by occasion, price point, trends, fabric, or color; a “wish list” function; and the ability to save shopping bags of items that have not been checked out. Brooks Brothers also inaugurated a weekly HTML e-mail newsletter notifying customers of special promotions and new merchandise, and it offers free shipping on orders of more than $100. All in all, says chief marketing officer Mark Friedman, the new and updated features give the customer “a more personal and relevant experience.”

From planning to launch, the redesign took about 10 months, Friedman says. Brooks Brothers used both staffers and outside talent. “Outsourcing eliminated the need for extensive recruiting and training,” says Nelson Sanchez, director of e-commerce marketing. “And we were able to invest our efforts to create a shopping experience consistent throughout Brooks Brothers, as our customers begin to move more freely from one channel to another.”

While Friedman won’t disclose the particulars pertaining to Brooks Brothers’ Web traffic or sales, he says the average order size online is “only slightly lower than that of retail or catalog.” And, he says, the basic Brooks Brothers products, such as button-down oxford shirts, continue to be favorites among online shoppers.

But it’s too soon to tell if the online customer has changed along with the Website. “We’ve designed a Website to attract young customers, a demographic that enjoys the more fashionable, casual attire of our brand today, without alienating the customer we’ve serviced for so many years in our stores and catalog,” Friedman says.

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