NEW YORK -- Bergdorf Goodman is looking to hit potential customers where they live -- in their homes.
The store will begin testing an interactive home shopping system in February through a joint project with Nynex in White Plains, N.Y., which will provide the technology, and Liberty Cable in Manhattan, which will provide cable access into homes.
The home shopping system will consist of three services that will be phased in over the next three months, according to Joe DeMauro, director of new product development for Nynex.
The first service will be a fashion video/infomercial that will describe the clothes the store is offering. It will be available on demand, which means viewers will be able to access it anytime. Bergdorf will update it whenever it wants to usher in a new season's styles.
The second element, an electronic catalog, will contain still images and text describing the apparel seen in the infomercial.
"The idea would be that if you see a particular kind of clothing in the taped segment, you can go into the catalog to get more information about it," said DeMauro. "There would be a variety of still images shot from different perspectives, showing what it looks like on a model," he added.
The system's third element is a personal shopping service that will allow a customer to have a video connection into the store where a sales agent will assist in the selection of garments or cosmetics. The customer will likely need an appointment with the personal shopper, who will assemble the desired items and subsequently display them on the screen.
DeMauro said the personal shopping service will use one-way video and two-way audio technology so customers can see the personal shopper, but the personal shopper cannot see into the customer's home.
"It's a service that is very labor-intensive and is a very high-end type of sales operation," DeMauro said. "It is something that's not going to be used in mass merchandising. Customers will hear about it through the store."
The test will initially target 50 households in three Manhattan complexes, The Bristol Plaza, on East 65th Street at Third Avenue; The Windsor Court, on East 31st Street at Third Avenue, and The Normandy Court on East 95th Street at Third Avenue."We chose [the buildings] to get a range of demographic characteristics and to see how shopping would vary by the type of households and distance," said Peter Price, president of Liberty Cable. "The three buildings represent totally different residential communities."
According to Price, The Windsor is a classic upper middle class rental building filled with working executives. Normandy Court is filled with young urban professionals, while residents of The Bristol Plaza have a high net worth and are Bergdorf's regular customers.
Within about six months, the test will expand to 800 Manhattan households.
Nynex is making plans to expand the service in the latter part of the year.
Bergdorf officials could not be reached for comment.
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