Tuesday, December 06, 2005

gap's upgrades already paying off

Much has been written about the bold step the crew at GAP took by shutting down Gap.com, oldnavy.com and bannanarepublic.com in August/September, to implement a new eCommerce experience. If you were under a rock, here are a few stories about this from our friends at Internet Retailer magazine:

This was a bold decision by GAP management. They've been on the comeback trail in general as a retailer. Their multi-channel efforts have helped lead them back, and their websites have been at the forefront of that. But, they were by no means back yet. So, what could have driven them to take such a drastic step as closing down their sites?

The answer is simple: provide a better shopping experience, and your customer will reward you. They set about rebuilding almost everything, front to back. They knew that if they didn't, their site would not serve as the multi-channel hub that retailers will need to survive and thrive in the years to come.

The results are not as simple, but are encouraging. Essentially, gap knew that it would be losing millions a day by the site(s) not being available to consumers. The question is, would consumers wait? The answer right now is... yes they did wait, and they're back.

GAP announced 3rd QTR results today, and while they were down... they weren't NEARLY as "down" as they should have been. According to the story, they were only down 9% over last year, this while experiencing either outages or significant slow-downs in sales through this significant channel.

That means, eventhough the sites were completely gone for two weeks, and had significant limitations for a total of 4-5 weeks, gap online sales only dipped like they were offline for a few days. I'm not at Gap headquarters or anything, but I have a hunch that the folks there are looking at their web analytics package with significant glee this holiday season. My guess is they are seeing significantly higher conversion rates thanks to nifty features like Quick Look, and that we'll see that their 4th quarter online numbers will be in the positive this year. Anyone want to take a milkshake bet on that one?

Kudos to those in Gap ecommerce management that sold the overall management team on the concept that some painful investment now, will in fact deliver rich rewards for the future. Also, kudos to those who actually executed on the promise.

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