Byline: Katherine Bowers

As the Internet now lurches along with every economic jitter, all bets are off on who will emerge profitable.

Big click-and-brick plays struggle — Nordstrom.com laid off three percent of its workforce Dec. 6. — but fashion e-tailers showcasing Los Angeles designers are having moderate success.

Purpleskirt.com and ItsEWonderfulLife.com reported the sites have not turned a profit, but are breaking even.

Leftgear.com is “barely” profitable, admitted Karen Dunn, chief operations officer, noting the company does not keep inventory.

Others have shifted strategies to break free of the pack. Styleclick Inc., for instance, an Internet heavyweight since its merger with USA Networks, has repositioned itself as an e-tail service provider and has inked deals with Russell Corp., Elle.com, About.com and Diane Von Furstenberg.
EStyle, which operates Babystyle.com and Kidstyle.com, diversified to include a catalog operation and private label maternity and children’s wear.

Business-to-business remains crowded with local players, many shifting from building marketplaces for public trading to private areas for manufacturers and retailers to work with supplier networks.

Fasturn Inc. had a busy year, acquiring economic consulting company IBERC, inking marketing deals with Andersen Consulting and licensing design collaboration technology from Retek Inc.

Freeborders acquired Applied Intranet Technology in November in preparation for a December offering of its private marketplace technology.

GarmenTrade is in beta testing with sportswear manufacturer Byer California, said chief executive officer Florent Saint-Clair, noting “the vision of end-to-end clarity in the supply chain is very utopian at this point.”

ModeZone.com, which made a splashy appearance with free massages at the last WWDMAGIC, has gone through two ceo’s since. The company plans to offer free online catalog services to manufacturers, according to chief technology officer David Robbins.

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