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Nike Decides to Just Do It on the Web

Nike Inc. has decided to dip a sneaker toe into the Internet sales waters, and plans to begin direct-to-consumer selling on its Nike.com site.

The Web site, previously a marketing communications effort, is shifting to a marketing information and sales destination in response to the growing number of consumers seeking greater access to Nike products, the company said.

In what initially will be a limited three-month offer available only in the United States, Nike.com will provide access to a portion of its Nike Alpha Project product line--footwear, apparel and equipment that represents the best athletic wear across the sports categories in which Nike does business.

Nike said it will implement a more ambitious site with a wider product mix later this year.

"Nike's first form of direct selling of products to consumers was from the trunk of my 1964 Plymouth Valiant," said Philip H. Knight, chairman and CEO. "We were there to fully describe the various features of the products to any athletes looking for high performance. With the Internet, we have an opportunity to recapture a level of intimacy with our consumer and simultaneously drive potential buyers to our retail partners."

Maintaining relationships with Nike retailers is a key component of Nike.com, according to Mark Duggan, director of U.S. sales.

"This site will better inform people who play sports about the Nike Alpha Project and the best products Nike makes. We will also provide a store locator function. This will do a great job of directing users to retail stores near them that offer the Nike Alpha Project products. . . .We're expecting this to be good for everybody selling Nike products."

Nike is outsourcing logistics services to UPS Worldwide Logistics and will offer overnight, second-day and ground delivery of orders.