Shoppers Shrug Off Gap Website Shutdowns

After closing its three major sites for an overhaul in late August, apparel retailer Gap is reportedly drawing more shoppers to the sites than it did before the shutdowns, even as it limits the number of visitors to its online stores.

OldNavy.com and BananaRepublic.com saw traffic increases of 5% and 13% respectively during the first full week the sites went back online compared with the week before the sites were taken offline, according to a report by online intelligence firm Hitwise.

Moreover, searches for “old navy” and “gap” increased by 69% and 88%, respectively when the sites were offline, as stymied shoppers turned to search engines to find the brands, according to Hitwise.

Gap took BananaRepublic.com, OldNavy.com, and Gap.com offline on Aug. 24 for major overhauls, which included adding real-time inventory so that shoppers wouldn’t be shown out-of-stock items, an automatic upsell and cross-sell feature, and an “outfitting” feature that allows shoppers to click on an outfit and see all the elements on one screen. The company brought BananaRepublic.com, OldNavy.com, and Gap.com back online on Aug. 26, Aug. 29, and Sept. 1 respectively.

The sites could be drawing even more visitors, but Gap has been limiting access to them to an undisclosed number of people at any given time while the sites are “stabilized,” says spokesperson Sarah Anderson. “We’re trying to gain some valuable learning while we do this, and [limiting access] helps us provide our customers a solid and improved experience in the interim,” she says. The sites are scheduled to be fully operational “in the next week or so,” Anderson adds.

For the first six months of 2005, Gap reported that sales across all its e-commerce sites were $245 million, including $95 million for Gap.com, $114 million for OldNavy.com, and $36 million for BananaRepublic.com. That compares with total e-commerce revenue of $234 million for first six months of 2004, including $101 million for Gap.com, $94 million for OldNavy.com, and $39 million for BananaRepublic.com. Gap’s total sales for the period were $7.3 billion.

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