THE THREAD FASHIONS NEW ALLIANCE

Byline: Valerie Seckler

NEW YORK — The Thread has just sewn up a strategic alliance with business-to-business e-commerce enabler PurchasePro and America Online, the world’s largest Internet service provider, that could go a long way in helping the one-year-old apparel sourcing site hook some new customers.
Those players are poised to announce today they have opened The Thread’s B2B apparel exchange — accessible to the 30,000 businesses that are members of AOL’s Netbusiness Marketplace. The Thread’s e-market will be powered by PurchasePro’s e-commerce technology and will enable users to buy and sell in-season fashion merchandise online. Currently, 240 e-markets, such as The Thread, are live online in the Netbusiness forum.
Economies of scale form the foundation of the deal: the size, and subsequent liquidity, of AOL’s B2B destination is expected to provide The Thread with a healthy market to mine from day one.
“The apparel and related fashion industries are very fragmented, with over $1 trillion in global sales,” noted Charles E. Johnson Jr., PurchasePro’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We expect The Thread to be a significant player in the e-marketplace arena, bringing together thousands of companies in the apparel and footwear industries.” Until now, The Thread’s users could trade sourcing information on the B2B Web site, at thethread.com, but were unable to actually procure fashion goods. “The adoption of an e-marketplace is easier than a startup,” observed Gene Ostrovsky, The Thread’s executive vice president of operations, who joined the B2B from Warnaco where he’d been vice president of strategic operations. “So, our expectation is that we will have greater, and faster, adoption of these systems. Ultimately, the goal is for the PurchasePro-enabled marketplace to support participants in The Thread. The Thread is not only about procurement; it’s about convenience.”
Still, Ostrovsky acknowledged: “The real kick for the apparel business will be signing on some major suppliers. We are making this effort as we speak.”

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