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Levi Strauss to Shutter Online Store

Levi Strauss and Co. is close to pulling the plug on its ambitious e-tailing plans. The clothing maker confirmed Friday that it intends to phase out its online store after this holiday season -- just a year after it launched.

Levi spokesperson Jeff Beckman told InternetNews.com the company was generally very satisfied with traffic and sales at the site. But the cost of those sales was too high. "During the past year, it has become clear that the cost of running a world-class ecommerce business is unaffordable right now when we look at our other competing priorities," said Beckman.

Gaining intimacy with consumers is one of the lures of e-tailing, but the Levi's experience suggests that manufacturers may need to consider all the risks before going it alone online. When Levi's launched its online store last November, the firm reportedly angered retailers by forbidding them from selling Levi's products over the Web in their own online stores.

The privately-held San Francisco company may still sell some items online after the holidays, according to Beckman, but the site will primarily direct shoppers to its brick and mortar stores or to the web sites of its retail partners, Macy's and JC Penney.

"We need to look at what's right for us, our brands, and our consumers," said Beckman, "and we are absolutely going to have the best apparel marketing web site in the world and offer consumers who come there a really rich presentation."

Among the partners that helped launch the ill-fated Levi's store were Internet consulting firm USWeb/CKS, which provided strategic and technical services, and San Francisco-based Andromedia, which supplied personalization technology.