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RealTime IT News

Ann Taylor Makes Online Showing

Ann Taylor, a women's specialty clothier, debuted its first-ever online store on Tuesday.

The launch is just in time for the holiday shopping season. According to Jupiter Research, a e-commerce research firm, 6.3 million U.S. residents will spend more than 50 percent of their holiday budget online this year -- an increase of 294 percent over 1999.

Further, the research firm predicts that a large number of consumers will make online apparel purchases this Yuletide season. "Consumers are more likely to purchase clothing and shoes online this year because they are both desirable gifts and, this year, a greater number of sites are offering a larger selection of brand-name apparel," said Ken Casar, Jupiter Research senior analyst.

Jupiter anticipates that online spending for apparel will reach $1.4 billion this year. Footwear sales expected to account for $200 million in online spending.

The anntaylor.com site is powered by InterWorld Commerce Suite, an e-commerce software solution. According to Michael Donahue, chairman and president and CEO of InterWorld, the online store uses InterWorld's rich set of pre-packaged enterprise applications to facilitate product merchandising, client service and order management to help ensure a positive shopping experience.

"Ann Taylor planned to launch the site in March 2001, but it will instead open in time for holiday sales, due to a speedy implementation," he said. "InterWorld's e-commerce solution will support Ann Taylor's anticipated long-term e-commerce growth. We're pleased to add them to our growing customer roster of leading e-retailers."

The Ann Taylor site, designed by Digitas, intends to offer a mixture of Web-exclusive clothing as well as about 50 percent of the products available in the store.

Features of the virtual store include:

  • An interactive "Wardrobe Advisor," which suggests items to customers after they enter personal style information.
  • "Quick Shop," which allows users to view entire outfits by catalog code.
  • A Wardrobing Room, modeled after an in-store fitting room, that lets users mix and match items, viewing them in different combinations.

"We were charged with building a user experience for the online store that is consistent with Ann Taylor's lifestyle brand image and client expectations," said Daniel Flamberg, senior vice president and managing director, Digitas. "Anntaylor.com uses an array of technology to provide clients with the ability to zoom, view front and back and instantly change an item's color by simply clicking on color swatches."

Ann Taylor's younger, less-expensive division, Loft, will launch its own site next year, according to InterWorld.

Ann Taylor Stores Corp. operates 467 stores in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Last year, the company's sales were just over $1 billion with a profit of $64.5 million.