NEW YORK — Internet behemoth Amazon.com plans to add a virtual storefront to its apparel and accessories category —that of five-year-old fashion off-pricer Bluefly.com.

This story first appeared in the January 23, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In return for the offer of its deeply discounted designer duds under such names as Prada, Ralph Lauren, Kenneth Cole and Ferragamo, Bluefly will benefit from the exposure it gains to Amazon’s 37 million active customer accounts worldwide. Bluefly, which has signed a contract for the new cyberstore, expects to go live at Amazon with thousands of items, said Bluefly chief executive officer Ken Seiff, “possibly as early as the summer and certainly this year. We’re planning the integration.

“One of the reasons this deal is so compelling is we don’t have to do any incremental marketing to get the word out,” Seiff noted Thursday. “Amazon does a good job of letting customers know it sells various brands of apparel.”

Launched in November 2002, Amazon’s apparel and accessories store merchandises more than 1,500 brands consumers can buy with a single shopping cart and checkout procedure, in some cases aided by customer reviews. That process simplifies the typical online shopping experience of going from one Web site to another and shopping and transacting purchases anew at each location.

The Bluefly deal marks a continuation of Amazon’s strategy to fuel growth, in part by striking alliances with other merchants, including Target, Marshall Field’s, Office Depot, Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us. For the third quarter ended Sept. 30, Amazon earned about $16 million on sales of $1.1 billion, while Bluefly lost roughly $3.4 million on sales of $8.2 million.