NEW YORK — Bergdorf Goodman has multichannel ambitions and wants to fulfill the strategy by launching e-commerce in fall 2004.

The luxury store unofficially joined the e-commerce crowd two weeks ago, when it launched an informational-only site, This month, the store began promoting its site through direct mail, advertising in newspapers and magazines, and banner ads on other Web sites.

“This is actually part of a staged strategy in terms of our multichannel approach, which began with the launch of Bergdorf Goodman Magazine in the fall of 2000,” said Michael Calman, senior vice president of marketing. “This is the next step, to go with a branding and informational site and then as we build an e-mail database, we’ll be transactional for fall 2004.

“Right now it’s a very edited presentation. It’s more about branding and information. But when we go transactional it’s going to be very deep, not the entire presentation of the store but hundreds of sku’s when we launch. It will skew towards accessories, shoes, handbags and cosmetics, which are key classifications for online selling. But certainly, we will have a representation of our fashion across all categories.”

Calman said the site is being co-developed with Neiman Marcus. Bergdorf’s and Neiman’s are divisions of the Neiman Marcus Group. The infrastructure will be shared — including order taking, fulfillment and customer service — and orchestrated through the Dallas-based offices of Neiman’s.

However, the front end, including all the creative and merchandising aspects of the Web site, is controlled by Bergdorf’s. Neiman Marcus already conducts e-commerce.

There has been some debate about whether wealthy women want to shop for luxury goods online. “We believe they do. It’s certainly been the experience of Neiman Marcus online,” Calman said. “The affluent go online for personal shopping or for browsing and information. Online shopping does not seem to be price-sensitive. That’s because of the convenience factor.”

Calman also said that he expects will “extend the breadth and reach of the brand” rather than snatching sales from the store. “It’s actually complementary to store sales. It brings in a new customer through the exposure.”Last fall, Bergdorf’s held a successful online joint venture Marc Jacobs trunk show with Bergdorf’s took orders online, through a online form, and the trunk show was presented online. While Calman said it was successful, another online trunk show is not currentlybeing planned. “We are concentrating on the branding and informational side of the Web site until we go transactional,” Calman said.

The new site contains three key fashion areas: the men’s and women’s sections, which draw primarily upon images from Bergdorf Goodman Magazine andinclude a sampling of designer collections; pages devoted to shoes, handbags, beauty, jewelry, accessories and decorative home, and a Very Bergdorf page showcasing key items and gifts as presented in the 2003 Holiday gifts catalog.

Each page of the site includes an area where consumers can request Bergdorf Goodman Magazine and sign up to receive Bergdorf Goodman news via e-mail as well as invitations to designer appearances and trunk shows. Events are posted and consumers can RSVP.

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