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Neiman Marcus Expands Christmas Book Web Options

Less high-tech than in recent years, the book’s fantasy gifts tip toward experiences and art, with nary a diamond in sight.

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DALLAS — The $1 million dancing fountain in Neiman Marcus’ 2011 Christmas Book can be purchased via Google Catalogs today as the retailer continues to add mobile business platforms.

This story first appeared in the October 19, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“We hope it will be additional distribution for folks who don’t get the Christmas catalogue sent directly to them, so we’re going to have a wider base,” said John E. Koryl, president of NM Direct, at the launch of the Christmas Book and its signature fantasy gifts. “If we lumped all of the mobile [business] together, it is a meaningful percentage of our business at this point.”

The Christmas catalogue’s sales have been “consistent” for the past two years, said Ginger Reeder, vice president of corporate communications.

“What we’ve seen is a shift in where the customer is shopping, from actually calling it in and placing an order to going online,” she said.

The merchandise mix in the 172-page catalogue is similar to last year, dominated by shoes, handbags, jewelry and clothing intended for self purchase along with gift items like a black granite cheese board. For the third year in a row, half of the book’s 600 items are tagged under $250.

Less high-tech than in recent years, the book’s fantasy gifts tip toward experiences and art, with nary a diamond in sight. The launch at the Dallas Contemporary gallery featured a luxury tour for 10 by private jet of Europe’s five biggest flower shows for $420,000; a weekend cooking and gardening trip for two to Stone Barns Farm in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., for $20,000; a private Scotch tasting for 20 arranged by Johnny Walker for $5,000, with all proceeds going to amfAR, and a black-rubber-topped Ping-Pong table by artist Tom Burr for $45,000.

Nesting gifts include an all-weather yurt with a luxurious custom interior starting at $75,000; a bespoke library by publisher Assouline for $125,000, and private musical waterworks created by Wet, which styles the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas. There’s also a $250,000 25-foot mahogony Hacker-Craft speedboat in a Neiman’s edition featuring a gold-leaf waterline, a monogrammed humidor and other posh touches.

This year’s car is the 2012 Ferrari FF, a Neiman’s version of the four-wheel-drive, four-seat roadster. Ten are available at $395,000 to ship in February, catapulting drivers ahead of the year-long wait list for Ferrari’s first four-wheel drive car, explained Marco Mattiacci, chief executive officer of Ferrari North America.

With the exception of the Ferrari, each of the fantasy gifts has a charitable tie-in.

“In the past it’s been one charity, so I thought this year why not do more and do different kinds?” Reeder said. “Cause-related marketing is always hot but I think you have to stay ahead of the game to keep it fresh.”

As for last year’s fantasy gifts, the company sold several Tory Burch trikes, both ukuleles, and a trip to Marfa, Tex. All 100 Camaro convertibles sold in three minutes, Reeder noted.

Neiman’s continues to pursue social media and has tested Facebook tabs that shoppers can click to buy a product via Neiman’s Web site.

“Our focus is making our site as friction-free as possible so people can come in, find exactly what they want and complete the transaction as quickly as possible,” Koryl said.

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