Byline: Denise Power

NEW YORK — Gearing up for its fall launch of an apparel line, timepiece maker Fossil is looking to expand its use of 3D technology to portray merchandise on its Web site.
Currently, about 45 percent of the company’s offerings in 1950s Americana-theme watches and accessories is represented in 3D technology on the site, However, the Richardson, Tex., company intends to digitally photograph all the apparel in its upcoming jeans and casualwear collection and present the images in a way that allows consumers to manipulate them online and better view details.
“We are going to leverage the technologies that make the site feature-rich today, such as 3D product viewing,” said Kurt Hagen, vice president of e-commerce. “Our intent is to do every item, but not all colorways” of a given apparel item in 3D. Fossil has an extensive photo studio, he noted, and creates the 3D images in-house, using QuickTime digital media technology from Apple Computer, Cupertino, Calif.
In conjunction with the apparel launch, Fossil is developing a new store format to accommodate a mix of 70 percent apparel and 30 percent accessories. “We are going to be opening up additional stores, with a larger footprint, going from 2,300 to 3,500 square feet,” said Randy Kercho, executive vice president and chief financial officer. About 12 stores are set to open mid-July through September.
Also, Fossil operates about 50 company-owned stores, including 17 full-priced units and 34 outlets.
Fossil’s online and physical store strategy calls for maximum integration of technologies supporting both sales channels For example, the e-commerce site is linked to the firm’s warehouse management system, from Manhattan Associates, Atlanta, and orders online are received in 10 seconds.
That speed, supported by enterprise management software from JBA International, Rolling Meadows, Ill., enables Internet orders to be processed within 24 hours.
Rob Wilson, director of operations and distribution, said the warehouse management system, which is driven by radio frequency bar-code technology, is already equipped to handle the multiple product attributes that will come into play with the addition of apparel inventory. However, Hagen said the Internet site’s database is being restructured to accommodate the additional data.
“Our primary product, right now, is watches, and they have a single dimension,” said Hagen, whereas apparel has several attributes such as size, color, waist and inseam measurements. Fossil is restructuring the Internet database with help from the Dallas office of Raymond James Consulting, Denver.
The 3D technology is not new to Fossil’s Web site. Currently, with certain items, consumers can increase the size of an image to view details or activate the movement of a timepiece or a wristwatch clasp to demonstrate just how it works.
Users of computers with the QuickTime plug-in application can rotate certain products to view them from various angles. A plug-in application is a program that enhances the functions of a Web browser.

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