NEW YORK — Barneys New York is launching a permanent off-price Web site.
This story first appeared in the January 31, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Barneyswarehouse.com will launch Monday. “It fits with our strategy to build all of these digital properties,” said Daniella Vitale, chief operating officer of Barneys, adding that the retailer is considering other product categories and classifications for future e-commerce sites. “Yes, I do think there are other categories. In home, we have this incredible Chelsea Passage that we don’t speak to as much as we could. Some things could have a greater digital presence. Beauty is certainly something. We carry a lot of brands that aren’t widely distributed. We’ve probably underplayed beauty a little on our Web site.”
Some e-commerce sites have performed like a retailer’s biggest-volume unit. “I certainly think this could be our biggest store,” Vitale said. “The online business is explosive and the fastest-growing business we have. It will be no different for the off-price component. The warehouse sale is [a factory] outlet in the same way that Barneys.com is a flagship and should reflect the Madison Avenue location. ”
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Barneyswarehouse.com will allow consumers who don’t live near one of Barneys’ 13 outlet stores to shop for bargains. “It will be part of an acquisition strategy,” Vitale said of the new Web site. “It’s customer acquisition, and obviously, that’s what we’re after.”
Barneys tested the online warehouse concept for two weeks in August. “We dipped our toe in the water and the [test] was enormously successful,” Vitale said. “To see synergies between full-line customers and how many came back” and shopped the outlet Web site proved that “the customer shops both. It indicated this is something we should be doing on a long-term basis. They can all coexist and grow together,” she said. “They play off of each other.”
Merchandise on the warehouse site will be past-season sale items at discounts of up to 75 percent off retail, including women’s wear, men’s wear, children’s wear and Chelsea Passage that will be updated throughout the season. Vitale said Barneys doesn’t buy a lot of merchandise for its outlet stores. “We use them for liquidation,” she said. “Barneyswarehouse.com will be part of our liquidation.”
The brick-and-mortar warehouse sale will continue Feb. 14 to 24 at the West 18th Street location and be relocated in August-September to a space a block away, where the merchandise will turn heavily toward men’s. Vitale said Barneys will be able to use the space for warehouse sales on a recurring basis. “The origin of the warehouse sale was as a men’s sale,” she said. “While men’s tailored clothing is a little harder to sell, in some ways it’s going back to the original concept.”
When Barneys on Jan. 22 said it would close its Chelsea Co-op, Vitale said, “We believe that there remains significant opportunity for Barneys in downtown Manhattan to replace and expand upon this store closing and our historic business.” Asked about the retailer’s progress, Vitale said, “We’re really in the very beginning stages of exploring different opportunities in downtown Manhattan. We want a downtown presence. We’re looking at all different possibilities.”