Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Wave of the Future in eCommerce!

It looks like B&M stores are trying to get aggressive with their online plans.

First we have the announcement that Borders is launching their new website which is really not big news, but today in a post from The Motley Fool: The Gap will be combining four brands into one website; "Well, the company is in the process of integrating its four primary websites -- Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Piperlime -- into a single shopping experience.

The integration will provide more one-stop convenience, including related breaks in shipping costs when a buyer wants to pair up jeans at the Gap with a Banana Republic handbag, an Old Navy swimsuit, and a pair of Piperlime pumps.

The "4 Stores, 1 Checkout" approach is compelling, especially because Gap is tempting buyers to load up their virtual carts as much as possible and still pay just a flat rate of $7 for shipping. Piperlime orders, as always, ship for free.

Even Amazon can't touch that, because most of the apparel on its site is sold through third-party merchants who don't participate in the Prime subsidized-shipping program."

This is just the beginning, how long before the new Gap marketplace opens their doors to 3P sellers in the apparel and accessories categories and gets some of that Amazon mojo. With this move The Gap saves marketing expenses by gathering all of their brands into one marketplace and they expand their promotional offerings between the brands and can offer great new services like combined shipping for a very low S&H price. Consumers love that.

eBay is the company that should be worried. They are desperately trying to become a fixed-price, New in-season marketplace, but they cannot hope to compete with the web experience that Amazon, Zappos, Best Buy or now The Gap can provide because they don't control price or fulfillment. It is a pipe dream for current eBay managers to think they can even come close to that kind of experience. They don't control price, fulfillment or inventory because they have no skin in the game.

Look for more of these "marketplaces" to develop in the coming years

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