Since launching online a decade ago, Polo Ralph Lauren has embraced and pioneered technological innovations like few other fashion houses. Here, a look back at some of the highlights of the past ten years.
• Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. launches Ralph Lauren Media in a joint venture with NBC, with polo.com as the core property that offers a mix of content and commerce. Polo.com launches on Nov. 10. “We call it ‘merchantainment’: a gorgeous online store-environment that you can literally step into,” David Lauren tells WWD.
• RL Magazine launches on polo.com, offering an editorial touch to the genre with exclusive content, from celebrity interviews to features on design, home, entertainment, sports and business.
• Lauren introduces a feature on polo.com that allows visitors to click on their favorite looks through pop-up boxes on the site.
• Polo features a virtual trunk show for the fall 2003 Ralph Lauren Collection on one of its Web sites, Runway.Polo.com.
• Ralph Lauren creates interactive shopping windows that allow consumers to purchase apparel 24 hours a day, seven days at week, with the touch of their fingers, from outside the store. Orders are fulfilled by polo.com, and returns can be made to either the store or the Web site.
• Polo launches rugby.com as a stand-alone marketing site to help inform consumers on the brand with videos, visuals and sketches.
• Polo takes control of Ralph Lauren Media, buying out the 50 percent stake held by NBC-Lauren Media Holdings and ValueVision Media Inc. in a cash transaction of $175 million, giving the company full control over polo.com.
• Polo.com starts operating as ralphlauren.com
• Polo breaks into mobile commerce technology, allowing customers to shop from their smartphones and incorporating Quick Response Technology codes in its ads, mailers and store windows, which potential shoppers can scan and download on their camera phones.
• Rugby.com adds e-commerce.
• Polo launches an iPhone application.
• Polo launches its first-ever virtual show for Rugby with a “make-your-own” option that allows viewers to put together their favorite looks; see them in motion on actual models sashaying through a sophisticated, virtual, Rugby brand-inspired environment, and buy them.
• The company launches a make-your-own Rugby shirt iPhone application.
• Polo stages its first-ever fashion show for Lauren by Ralph Lauren online, with footage of real models on the runway in spring looks customers can order immediately, and live online commentary from Hearst Magazines editors. Lauren shoppers can directly send style questions to the editors, which they answer for four days following the show.
• Ralphlauren.com introduces an online Legends Clinic with Boris Becker during the Wimbledon tennis championships, followed by a similar event with Venus Williams for the U.S. Open.
• Polo launches “The RL Gang,” an interactive, online storybook narrated by Harry Connick Jr. with children’s characters in full Ralph regalia.
• Polo celebrates its 10th year anniversary with a four-dimensional experience in New York and London.