BELK’S FIRST STEP ONLINE

Byline: Valerie Seckler

NEW YORK — Regional retailer Belk Inc., based in Charlotte, N.C. went live online Thursday with its first e-tail site, at belk.com, an effort it is getting off the ground and into cyberspace at a measured clip. For starters, there’s a gift registry merchandising more than 100,000 different items and plans to broaden the offer in coming months.
The slow-but-sure approach reflects the ever-changing ethos of the e-commerce crowd, who now believe the first mover advantage online is over, and the best strategy for new ventures is a realistic path to profit rather than trying to do too much too soon.
“We don’t want to duplicate our store on the Web,” noted Steve Pernotto, a senior vice president at the chain of 207 Belk department stores in 13 mid-Atlantic and Southeastern states. “At this point, we don’t have a model on the best way to do it. We think our bricks-and-clicks brand gives us an advantage.”
The bridal and gift goods available through the registry at belk.com and via Internet-enabled Belk Great Gifts kiosks in 156 of its stores, include fragrances, watches, fine china, crystal and home goods. Brands on the Web site include Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Anne Klein II, Guess, Kenneth Cole, Fossil, Lenox, Calphalon, and Fieldcrest.
Belk.com customers will be able to buy Belk Great Gifts Cards that can be used at any Belk’s location, and to track the status of orders at the Web site.
“Customers can now shop online at Belk 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we can extend our business to new customers in areas of the country where we do not have stores,” said Jay Carothers, president of Belk’s e-commerce unit, in a statement.

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