NEW YORK — Sears snagged one of the Internet’s biggest apparel merchants with its deal this month to acquire Lands’ End, but the retail giant has its work cut out for it if it expects to attract many of those fashion cybershoppers to its own e-commerce site.

This story first appeared in the May 22, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

That’s the message in the numbers reported Tuesday by Rochester-based market researcher Harris Interactive, which has found, among other things, that approximately 17 percent of Sears.com shoppers also shop at LandsEnd.com, while only 12 percent of LandsEnd.com shoppers shop at Sears.com. Part of the gap revealed in the Harris online poll of 2,146 people, taken last month, can be explained by Sears’ slim assortment of apparel on its Web site, which is currently limited to work wear, and, in the past, has included school uniforms. (As noted in WWD, Sears plans to start carrying Lands’ End apparel on its Web site.)

But some of the difference also may reflect variances in the online shoppers themselves. For example, Harris Interactive reported visitors to LandsEnd.com are better educated and more affluent than Sears.com shoppers: 27 percent of them hold post-graduate degrees, versus 11 percent of Sears.com visitors; and 38 percent live in households with annual income north of $75,000 against 26 percent. Perhaps as a result, customers of LandsEnd.com are also more Web savvy, with 27 percent having made a purchase online more than five years ago, compared with just 19 percent of Sears.com shoppers. In addition, 56 percent of LandsEnd.com shoppers buy something online more than once a month, against 45 percent of Sears.com customers.

Despite those differences, respondents to the Harris Interactive survey rated their satisfaction with the Lands’ End Web site an 8.42 on a scale of one to 10, and Sears.com, an 8. As for specific attributes of the sites, Lands’ End scored an 8.44 on ease of use to Sears’ 7.94; an 8.54 on information available, versus 7.89, and an 8.44 on product selection versus 7.78.