BLUEFLY’S TECHNOLOGY GROWS WITH VOLUME
Byline: Michael Hickins
NEW YORK — Bluefly.com, the online off-price apparel retailer, has been getting 60 percent more sales from each visitor to the site since June, according to its chief executive officer, Ken Seiff.
Revenue per hit was $1.07 in the third quarter, versus 66 cents in the second quarter. Net sales increased 19 percent in the third quarter to $873,000 from $732,000 in the second quarter.
“Customer loyalty is won by fulfilling orders quickly and accurately,” Seiff said.
Seiff said Bluefly’s technology investments have improved turnaround time and fulfillment capacity enormously, preparing the company for the holiday onslaught. The season is expected to be a huge one for e-tailers.
One investment at Bluefly that has paid off handsomely is fraud-screening software from CyberSource, of San Jose, Calif., which has reduced the incidence of credit card fraud while actually generating business.
According to Seiff, the company had been screening orders manually. Associates had to spend a considerable amount of time evaluating up to 24 variables before deciding whether to accept an order. This resulted in unnecessary rejection of orders and slowed fulfillment.
The software screens each order in seconds. “The software is much more accurate and has actually increased order acceptance rates by 3 percent,” said Seiff.
Bluefly has added four new NT servers to handle increased site visits and to speed order handling, and is using order fulfillment software from E-Share of Commack, N.Y. Bluefly has acquired two new warehouses, which has enabled it to double inventory since June. Bluefly has also invested in merchandising technology, focusing on features that Seiff said improve the shopping experience. For instance, the retailer has implemented solutions that allow customers to see closeups of their selections.
“My Catalog” is another proprietary feature that allows users to narrow their search, selecting such elements as brand, size, style and price.
“This time next year, there might only be two or three sites for each category,” Seiff said. “We intend to be the dominant player in the online designer outlet sector within 36 months,” he said.
Seiff believes the real fallout from the holiday season may not be felt until later in the year. While e-commerce sites may put up staggering numbers now, customer satisfaction won’t be reflected until repeat sales materialize. “The consumer’s experience will influence repeat business,” said Seiff.