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E-Commerce News builds and launches new Web site

January 5, 2007 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 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 and v.p. of said Amazon's inspiration for 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. began selling handbags and shoes a little less than five years ago.

Goldsmith said that, 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, also plans to allow consumers to shop by heel height, Goldsmith said. 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 ships an order, the company will refund 110 percent of the difference. And if 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. 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 has redesigned its Web site to make it more user friendly, while online shoe leader 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 site.

As with some of its rivals, 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, and all offer free standard shipping.

"This is an interesting play by Amazon," said Dougherty. Still, Dougherty noted that a big challenge for will be "building a name for the site."

Goldsmith declined to talk about how Amazon is marketing The site does not make heavy reference to, though when shoppers are ready to buy, they can use their existing accounts. does feature a link to

Source: eCommerce Times

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