BOO SETS LAUNCH DATE AND CONTENT

Byline: Valerie Seckler

NEW YORK — Boo.com, the highly publicized — and much maligned — global fashion e-tailer that flamed out after just seven months online, is set to be relaunched as a fashion portal on Oct. 30.
The main mission of the site, acquired by Fashionmall.com in June, is still to sell style online to young, fashion-forward customers in the 18-30 age range.
Since she signed on as president of Boo.com in July, however, Kate Buggeln has found that people who have answered surveys at the portal’s construction site, among others, want access to lots of fashion-lifestyle content and a strong sense of online community. As a result, Buggeln said Thursday, she envisions Boo as the “definitive modern Internet fashion portal,” one that leverages the Net to enable customers to share their takes on style. As we go forward, I believe that more culture and style trends will be set on the Internet.
“As we’ve gotten to know the Boo customer better,” Buggeln continued, “we’ve learned there is a phenomenal opportunity to reach young, modern consumers who are passionate about fashion, and to give them an opportunity to talk with each other about fashion online. There are lots of sites that provide their own viewpoint on fashion, whether their tone is arrogant or informational, but not for people to talk to one another about style.
“We will have a significant community section,” Buggeln added, citing various ways Boo users will be able to communicate with each other on the portal: online chat, bulletin boards and eventually via wireless Internet-enabled devices.
The portal’s editorial content will be grouped in three areas: “know,” which will provide fashion-lifestyle features that are updated every two weeks; “now,” containing timely news bits, and “next,” which will offer Boo.com’s own take, Buggeln said, on the “forward edge of style.” Features in the “know” section will be contributed by four outside content providers — Dazed & Confused, Nylon, Smock, YRB — while those in “now” will emanate from providers including Black Book and Revolution, a U.K.-based music publisher.
For the launch, six Bootiques will be featured on the home page at boo.com, signaling brands, Buggeln said, “that we think match best with Boo.” She declined to reveal those players Thursday, or any of the partners who have forged links with the portal, in time for its launch.
She did say Boo will go live this month with an assortment of about 250 items; roughly 20 percent of that offer will be changed each week. Eventually, Boo aims to have links to between 50 and 60 fashion e-commerce Web sites. That, of course, is the most salient difference between the new Boo, as it gets set to go live, and the former version, which was an e-tail pure-play that owned the merchandise it sold and fulfilled its customers orders.
Another significant difference the second time around, is that this incarnation will seek to expand at a more measured pace. It will begin by launching in the U.S. and U.K. — rather than the multilingual, multicurrency e-tail site that went live last November in a dozen markets in Europe and the U.S.
Plans call for the portal to go live in Sweden and Germany during the first quarter of 2001, and to continue to expand through 2002 into additional European markets, followed by moves into Asia and then South America. Buggeln said that late next year, Boo may begin to mount its own e-commerce effort, e-tailing various fashion and lifestyle products bearing the Boo.com brand.
“I believe one of the mistakes the early e-tailers have made is launching global sites and reaching for all the customers they can get,” Buggeln noted. “Boo will have a global reach, but we are targeting niche markets worldwide.”
To support the Web site’s reopening, Buggeln said, a “guerrilla” marketing campaign will break in two weeks, including some unusual outdoor ads that she didn’t describe, plus magazine and newspaper ads. Various promotional events will be timed to coincide with the relaunch.
“The most important thing to us, relative to marketing, was to recognize we’re not the first owners of the Boo brand,” Buggeln said. “On a weekly basis, we’ve been averaging 35,000 visitors to our [construction site]. That’s a very encouraging sign.”

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