January 5, 2007
Amazon.com has built and launched a new website that specializes on selling handbags and shoes,
marking the first time the Web shopping powerhouse has launched a new online brand. Amazon has
quietly started testing www.endless.com last month.
Amazon's new site features 250 brands and 15,000 styles and dangles an unusual offer in the eCommerce
world: free overnight shipping.
Steven Goldsmith, v.p. of apparel and accessories for Amazon.com and v.p. of Endless.com said
Amazon's inspiration for Endless.com came from the company's customers themselves.
Shoppers looking for accessories said they wanted speedier service and were particular
about how they search online for such items as only brown handbags and Donald Pliner boots
with a particular heel height, added Goldsmith.
"We started with a blank sheet of paper. We then added the customers and worked backwards,"
said Goldsmith, who declined to discuss sales goals. Amazon.com began selling handbags and
shoes a little less than five years ago.
Goldsmith said that Endless.com, which uses Amazon's distribution centers, developed a
different navigational search engine, allowing consumers to shop by price, style, brand, size
and color all at the same time or separately.
The site also allows shoppers to zoom in on details of the product. Based on consumer feedback
received so far, Endless.com also plans to allow consumers to shop by heel height,
Endless.com is also aiming to differentiate itself by providing other services. If a customer finds another site that offers a lower price within two weeks after the date Endless.com ships an order, the company will refund 110 percent of the difference. And if Endless.com lowers the price on its own site within 14 days of the shipment date, it will refund the customer 110 percent of that difference, as well.
Endless.com is aiming to make a dent in an increasingly competitive online handbag and shoe market.
The online shoe category in particular, once dismissed by naysayers as difficult to market, has become extremely hot, attracting newcomers such as Gap to the field.
Online shoe sales were estimated to reach US$2.9 billion in 2006, and are expected to almost double to $5.7 billion by 2011, according to Forrester Research.
In November, Gap officially launched a new online shoe site called Piperlime. Meanwhile, established rival Shoemall.com has redesigned its Web site to make it more user friendly, while online shoe leader Zappos.com has expanded into other accessories such as handbags and, most recently, eyewear.
Goldsmith said that handbags and shoes have been "very popular" on the regular Amazon.com site.
As with some of its rivals, Endless.com offers 24-hour customer service, free return shipping, and up to 365 days to return items.
The new site's free overnight shipping on the next business day is unusual and should give it a big competitive advantage, according to Heather Dougherty, an analyst at Nielsen//NetRatings. Rivals Zappos.com, Piperlime.com and shoemall.com all offer free standard shipping.
"This is an interesting play by Amazon," said Dougherty. Still, Dougherty noted that a big challenge for Amazon.com will be "building a name for the site."
Goldsmith declined to talk about how Amazon is marketing Endless.com. The site does not make heavy reference to Amazon.com, though when shoppers are ready to buy, they can use their existing Amazon.com accounts.
Amazon.com does feature a link to Endless.com.
Source: eCommerce Times
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