When it finally went online late last year, its e-commerce Web site (williams-sonoma.com) not only won a Clio for site design, it built its customer base, as well.
During its first six months online, Williams-Sonoma outperformed expectations, says Shelley Nandkeolyar, 42, VP-e-commerce, who joined Williams-Sonoma last summer from Levi Strauss & Co., where he was also involved in e-commerce.
Especially rewarding was the fact that 35% of Internet buyers were new to the Williams-Sonoma database. About 9% had shopped Williams-Sonoma in the past, but not recently, returning to the fold via the Web.
Williams-Sonoma also formed portal partnerships with CondeNet's food and cooking site, Epicurious.com, and Della.com, an online gift registry.
In its first three months, Williams-Sonoma's wedding and gift registry, which was supported with a print advertising campaign, recorded an 87% increase in total registries for Williams-Sonoma. That helped attract some 175,000 visitors in the first five weeks.
The wedding registry is the cornerstone of the site accounting for 40% to 50% of sales, Mr. Nandkeolyar says.