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Nordstrom Joins E-Tailer Fray

Bitten by the e-commerce bug, major department store Nordstrom this week announced it is forming a subsidiary to spearhead its online apparel sales.

Nordstrom.com's first project will an online shoe store, which the company boasts will offer 20 million pairs of shoes. NORDSTROMshoes.com expects to be open for business by this fall.

"Our experience in selling shoes on-line, combined with strong vendor partnerships, a well-established brand identity and our nearly 100-year heritage selling shoes, convince us this is the right initial focus," said Dan Nordstrom, Nordstrom.com's CEO. "Ultimately, we plan to replicate this experience through expanded offerings in a variety of merchandise categories, including apparel, accessories, jewelry, gifts and others."

The online apparel market is projected to total billions of dollars within three years, according to Nordstrom.

"For some time we have been developing core expertise in one-to-one retailing," said John Whitacre, Nordstrom's chairman and chief executive officer. "Now we are accelerating our presence and offering, and believe we are the best positioned retailer to dominate fashion-related e-commerce."

Nordstrom will put $10 million into the new venture, as well as give the subsidiary access to all of its company offerings. Benchmark Capital invested $15 million and Madrona Investment Group added $1 million. Each will have a minority stake in Nordstrom.com.