SYRUP HOPING NEW WEB SITE WILL HELP SWEETEN BOTTOM LINE

Byline: Katherine Bowers

LOS ANGELES — Syrup Clothing Co. is estimating its collection of young contemporary apparel will hit sales of $4 million this year — and it hopes a nice chunk of that business will come from its two-year-old Web site, which has just been expanded to offer e-commerce at syrupclothing.com.
The redesigned Syrup site was relaunched in cyberspace two weeks ago by Style-click.com, an Internet content and service provider that also sells and distributes the Syrup line from its own network of Web sites, including the flagship site at styleclick.com. Both companies are based here.
David White, Syrup’s president and owner, said the Internet pure-play originally made minimal investments in its Web site, when it went live online in 1998 as a marketing vehicle. But when traffic at syrup.com exceeded the company’s expectations, Syrup decided to give the site a fresh look while enlarging it to include the offer of e-commerce, with an assist from Styleclick.com.
Syrup Clothing Co., founded three years ago, has been financed entirely by White, who declined to specify his investment in the venture. Syrup produced sales of $3.5 million in 1999, he said.
“Every month, we’re in the top three attractions on Styleclick,” White noted. “We get over 300,000 hits per month. With that kind of activity and the amount of sales from the site, we decided to expand our own site.”
The site’s mix-and-match shopping feature allows users to “try on” tops and bottoms by fitting them on an animated model. The garments are designed to appear on the model much as they would on a body. For instance, when a camisole top is paired with some low-slung capris, the virtual model’s tummy peeks out.
In addition to commerce, Syrup.com, relaunched during the last week of June, is continuing to serve up a wide range of content, from swing music to video clips and promotional contests.
According to a Style-click.com spokeswoman, the new Syrup site provides a brand-focused shopping experience. “It’s one thing to showcase a product and another thing to create a themed experience that matches with [the company’s] marketing,” the spokeswoman said.
Styleclick.com will continue to carry Syrup’s line on its flagship site and will continue to handle all online distribution, inventory management, customer service and order fulfillment of the brand — whether customers place orders on Styleclick’s site or Syrup’s.
The Styleclick Web site will link to the Syrup Web site and both sites will carry the same items.
But will the site compete with specialty retailers who already carry the line? White said he doesn’t think so.
“We will not be opening a retail store,” he said. “Now that would be something [for retailers] to feel threatened by.”
However, the Syrup site does provide sales contact information for e-tailers who are considering carrying the line. As Syrup’s deal with Style-click.com is not exclusive, White said he’s open to forging agreements with other sites to sell Syrup clothing.
“We don’t want to duplicate our efforts [with Style-click.com],” White added, “but if we find an e-tailer that’s doing something new with presentation or the shopping experience, we’ll consider it.”

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