Gap boosts e-commerce with plans for new sites

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The Gap Inc., stepping up its direct marketing efforts, selected Think New Ideas, Los Angeles, to handle development of two new e-commerce Web sites.

"Think will execute a specific project for us," said Jayne Greenberg, VP-advertising media.

Think New Ideas will help the Gap's in-house ad operations launch two Web selling sites in the fourth quarter of this year, she said, one for BabyGap and the other for GapKids.

Other competitors in the review included Bronner Slosberg Humphrey, Boston; Cohn & Wells, San Francisco; and several undisclosed shops. Select Resources International, West Hollywood, Calif., was the consultant.

The new Web sites are the latest development in the Gap's intensifying push into relationship marketing.


Earlier this year, the Gap began sending e-mails to customers informing them of shopping developments, such as the ability to buy khakis online.

This month, the Gap's upscale Banana Republic division reintroduced its catalog after a 10-year hiatus. Banana Republic also is searching for an interactive shop.

The Gap's lower-price Old Navy division last month selected Ad-hoc Group, Sausalito, to establish a Web site. The site, to be online in the first half of 1999, won't initially have an e-commerce component.

Other companies, including Levi Strauss & Co., have developed online and catalog avenues for direct purchases by consumers in order to gain more control over the way their products are presented.

The Gap last holiday season launched sales via the Web site for its Gap stores, and sales have "exceeded our expectations," Ms. Greenberg said, though declining to offer specifics.

The site has been particularly popular in Alaska, where the Gap only this year opened its first store, and among U.S. military personnel stationed overseas, she said. The Gap plans to sell online internationally next year.


The Gap this fall became one of the first major retailers to advertise its Web site off-line with an estimated $5 million transit campaign, created in-house, in 11 major U.S. markets. The advertising notes the online store is "always open."

Seeking to grow its $23 share of the $700 the average U.S. consumer annually spends on apparel, the Gap wants to make sure customers don't leave without making a purchase because the store doesn't have the proper size at hand, executives said. That's where sourcing online will prove particularly beneficial.

Copyright September 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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