By  on February 6, 2009

Bally plans to launch its first online store this month.

“This is becoming very quickly a must for every company that wants to have global exposure and really provide the customer additional alternatives and options in buying product and getting and staying close to the brand,” said Bally chief executive officer Marco Franchini.

The design of the store is straightforward, modern and user-friendly, he said. The store will be added to the existing Bally site, which was redesigned last year and makes copious use of seasonal advertising images. Both were designed by Bally. Yoox, the Bologna, Italy-based e-tailer and e-commerce provider, will host the online shopping part of the site and handle operations and fulfillment.

At first, the store will offer shoes, accessories and small leather goods for men and women. Later, perhaps in the second half of 2009, Bally will add ready-to-wear. “Ready-to-wear plays an important part in projecting the more modern and sophisticated image for the brand, and I think it will be very well accepted,” said Franchini. Rtw makes up 15 percent of Bally’s sales.

Bally will learn from the first phase of the online store and will adjust its plans accordingly, he added.

The online store will open on Feb. 17 and 18 for existing Bally customers only. For the first month, they will also receive a gift-with-purchase. On Feb. 19, the store opens to the public. It will ship to Europe and the U.S. Eventually, Bally plans to expand to Japan as well.

The range of prices will be the same as in the brand’s brick-and-mortar stores, about 350 Swiss francs on average ($306 at current exchange rates), although the online store will carry only 50 to 75 percent of the sku’s, said Franchini.

The store, along with the recently redesigned marketing site, will help communicate recent changes in Bally’s identity, said Franchini. “You have probably seen quite a change and migration of what our products offer,” he said. “They are more sophisticated and higher quality. And with the Web site, we wanted to focus in this direction so we could help the customer understand what Bally is and where it is going.”

After Bally relaunched its site last year, traffic grew exponentially and visitors asked when Bally would sell online. “When you multiply the opportunities to customers to visit, it results in a stronger relationship and better service, and this translates to more sales,” the ceo said. It remains to be seen whether e-commerce will prove to be more resilient in the economic downturn than other channels, he added.

Labelux Group acquired Bally from TPG Capital last year. In 2007, Brian Atwood became creative director.

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