J. Berrye Worsham

Forget about retail-tainment. Now Cotton Incorporated is trying to make shopping a joyous experience.<br><br>J. Berrye Worsham, president and chief executive of the Cary, N.C.-based fiber promotion organization, unveiled a planned Web site devoted...

Forget about retail-tainment. Now Cotton Incorporated is trying to make shopping a joyous experience.

This story first appeared in the November 17, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

J. Berrye Worsham, president and chief executive of the Cary, N.C.-based fiber promotion organization, unveiled a planned Web site devoted exclusively to cotton products from an array of retailers. It is Cotton Inc.’s first e-commerce venture, though not its first presence on the Web.

The site is to feature women’s wear, men’s wear, children’s wear, home furnishings and other products. A test version of the site shown at the summit also featured the clay characters from Cotton Inc.’s current trade advertising campaign.

Cotton Inc. aims to have the site up and running by early next year. So far, Worsham said, 35 retailers have signed up to participate in the site, called TheJoyofShopping.com. About 25,000 stockkeeping units have already been entered into the site’s searchable database.

Worsham said retailers such as Eddie Bauer, Jos. A. Bank, Pacific Sunwear, Gap, Old Navy, Bluefly, Sears Roebuck & Co., Wal-Mart Stores and Kohl’s have signed on to participate and Cotton Inc. is in the process of recruiting additional retailers.

“Our goal is not to have just low-end or high-end merchandise, but to have a wide range of product,” he said.

Worsham told the audience of retailers and wholesalers that the site would be “a new way of reaching your consumer.”

The key selling point to the trade, he said, is that “it’s not going to have any hierarchical listings. There’s no preferential treatment given, no advertising on the Web site.”

That means that a consumer who searches for a product — such as a knit polo shirt, for instance — will simply get a clean list, featuring photos of all the products available through participating retailers on the site.

The site essentially acts as a search engine, combing through the inventory of participating retailers to show only cotton products. The software engine that drives the site is Arkdom, produced by the Web Commerce Group of Raleigh, N.C.

Once a consumer selects a product, the actual transaction is conducted by the participating retailer’s Web site, not by Cotton Inc. But according to an Arkdom official, Cotton Inc. will get a small commission on each purchase.

Cotton Inc.’s other Web sites include CottonInc.com, a trade-directed site that generates 40,000 hits per day, and TheFabricofOurLives.com, a consumer-driven site that attracts 24,000 hits per day, Worsham said.

“What we’re trying to do is make it easier for the consumer to shop for cotton products and to shop for products in general,” Worsham said. He added that the site makes it “easy for the consumer. They can shop multiple sites from one location. It’s great for the retailer, to help them sell more merchandise.”

Overall, Worsham said, “This is very consistent with our mission statement at Cotton Inc., which is to try to improve demand for cotton.”

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