TECHNOLOGY

Gifting goes digital—and customizable—at two Gap brands

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Athleta and Banana Republic are giving holiday shoppers a more thoughtful alternative to gift cards.

By joining forces with Loop Commerce, both Athleta and Banana Republic will offer the GiftNow card this holiday season. The card, an extension of Loop Commerce’s online GiftNow service, enables consumers to purchase and instantly deliver any product online. In a new twist, the GiftNow card also gives the recipient the option to accept, customize or exchange the merchandise before it ships.

Here’s how it works: A customer selects a gift for someone in-store, and with an associate’s help, that gift is virtually loaded to a GiftNow Card.

The process is similar online. Customers find an item they want to gift, and click on the “GiftNow” button on the product page to buy and checkout as a gift. They provide the recipient’s name and email, a special message, and select what day the gift should arrive. Customers can send the gift immediately, or wait to deliver it on a dedicated date.

Recipients receive an email with the gift details and a URL to view their gift. Here, they can accept it, and the item will be delivered immediately.

They also have the option to customize the gift by “selecting their preferred color, size and shipping address — or exchange it for something else entirely before the gift is sent,” according to Gap’s blog, aDdressed.

Athleta will be the first retailer to offer the GiftNow experience in-store. Ten stores in Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, California, Illinois, Texas, New York and Wisconsin will feature the GiftNow Card option starting the week of November 13. Both Athleta and Banana Republic will also offer the service on their websites, Gap said in the blog.

“We’re excited to add the GiftNow service to Athleta.com and BananaRepublic.com, and to be the first brand to work with Loop Commerce on a connected experience by also offering the GiftNow Card in select Athleta stores,” said Noam Paransky, senior VP digital at Gap Inc. “We believe this new personalized gifting service will provide our customers an easy way to do their holiday shopping both online and in-store.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Zappos’ new retail hub celebrates sneakers

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Zappos is creating a new shopping experience that celebrates classic footwear.

The online footwear retailer introduced “The_Ones,” a new online destination that celebrates classic shoe styles. It will kick off with a focus on “classic” sneakers. In addition to featuring a new online hub called FindTheOnes.com, the concept also has a shoppable Instagram feed, and will feature limited-time “pop-ins” in premium boutiques.

Shoppers can log in online to browse a curated assortment of classics and instant classics — what Zappos defines as new releases that instantly cement themselves as classics — from iconic brands including Vans, Puma, Adidas and Converse. The site also features a network of editorial content, including exclusive interviews with sneaker icons like Stan Smith, original videos and illustrations, and stories about the artists, musicians, and makers who live their lives in these shoes.

Zappos also features a mix of original photos, videos, and GIFs can on Instagram. The social network also features an integrated shopping experience provided by Curate.

The retailer is also giving shoppers the chance to engage with The_Ones merchandise in person through “pop-in” store experiences. Zappos is partnering with select boutiques to bring the experience to life. The first will be at Beyond, a pop-up by Tarek Hassan and Bird Brooklyn, which will feature a curated assortment of classic sneakers and Zappos’ customer service.

The_Ones experience will also show up outside a handful of sneaker drops in New York City. Here, Zappos plans to reward those waiting in line with surprises and gear giveaways.

Looking ahead, Zappos plans to use The_Ones to launch upcoming collaborations and exclusives, the company said.

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TECHNOLOGY

Report: Online giant expands private-label assortment across three categories

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon’s private-label offering recently got a big boost.

The online giant quietly launched its anticipated sportswear line in late October, a move that will turn up the heat on companies like Nike and Lululemon Athletica. However, merchandise can only be purchased by Prime members, according to Business Insider.

Currently, the category encompasses two new product lines, called Peak Velocity and Rebel Canyon. Peak Velocity is a high-performance menswear line that features athletic essentials including fleece hoodies, jogger pants, shorts and shirts that offer technical features such as moisture wicking functionality and breathability. Depending on the item, merchandise is priced between $79 and $29, according to Amazon’s website.

Peak Velocity is part of Amazon’s Rebel Canyon line, a lifestyle sportswear brand that is inspired by streetwear. Targeting both men and women, the line features jog pants, sweatshirts, T-shirts and hoodies. The merchandise is priced even lower than the Peak Velocity line, with items ranging between $12.95 and $42.95, according to the website.

Rebel Canyon was released earlier in 2017, according to Business Insider.

The lines’ debuts confirm last month’s industry buzz that Amazon was partnering with two of the biggest athletic-apparel suppliers with a goal of creating a new private-label sportswear line.

One company working with Amazon is Makalot Industrial Co. The manufacturer, which produces clothing for Gap Inc., Uniqlo and Kohl’s Corp., is already making apparel for the Amazon line. The online retailer is also working with Eclat Textile Co., which works with Nike, Lululemon Athletica and Under Armour.

The move takes a clear swipe at other go-to athletic brands, including Lululemon and Nike. However, Nike is currently in a pilot program with Amazon, where it is directly selling a limited selection of footwear, apparel, and accessories on the online giant’s site. Nike products have long been available on Amazon, but only through unauthorized third party sellers. This partnership marked the first time that Nike has sold directly on the Amazon.

Apparel isn’t the only private label category that Amazon is bolstering. This online retailer also launched its first two proprietary in-home furniture brands, according to Furniture Today.

The two lines are Rivet, a Mid-Century modern living room furniture and décor line, and Stone & Beam, a more transitional, modern and higher-priced line. The collections include “hundreds of pieces,” including sofas, accent chairs, sectionals and loveseats, tables (in Rivet), storage ottomans (Stone & Beam), lighting, rugs and wall art, the report said.

An Amazon spokeswoman said in the report that while the pieces carry the Prime badge and feature free shipping, not all products — such as sofas — are available for two-day shipping.

The online retailer also reintroduced a private label diaper line — albeit under a new name. Amazon pulled its Amazon Elements diapers from its virtual shelves in 2014, but now customers can find them online under the “Mama Bear” name, which also sells diaper pail refills, baby food and baby laundry detergent, according to C-Net.

The diapers are available for sizes 1 to 6, but are currently available by invite only. A newborn size is featured online, but Amazon hasn’t yet been released, according to Amazon’s website.

All three private-label lines are a way for the online retailer “to fill gaps in its lineup, rather than counting on big sports brands to offer their merchandise on Amazon,” L2 analyst Cooper Smith said in a Bloomberg report.

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