Gap.com Going Offline Sparks Consumer Interest

Discussion
Sep 23, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Taking its Old Navy (www.oldnavy.com), Gap (www.gap.com), and Banana Republic (www.bananarepublic.com) online stores offline for several days to
complete repairs and upgrades to the sites may have been one of the smartest moves that Gap Inc. has made recently.

According to Hitwise, Old Navy and Gap saw shoppers come back in higher numbers when they were back online. Old Navy’s traffic was up five percent
and Gap’s was up 13 percent for the first full week that the sites were back up and running.

“The lengthy closures for Gap’s online stores provides a unique opportunity to examine how consumer behavior changes when top sites within an industry
segment are inaccessible,” said Bill Tancer, general manager of global research at Hitwise in a released statement. “In this case, Gap’s online stores experienced both an
incremental lift in visits after the stores reopened as well as increased search on their brands during the site closure.”

The site’s being shut down, it seems, increased consumers’ curiosity about Gap Inc.’s online businesses.

Searches conducted online for the Old Navy and Gap were up 69 percent and 88 percent during the week the sites were closed for business. According
to Hitwise, the share of searches for the two sites was greater than during the peak of the 2004 holiday season. 

“Search term data provides unprecedented insight into how key events impact online and offline brands,” said Mr. Tancer. “While it is counter-intuitive
that the market share of visits to Gap and Old Navy online stores would increase after lengthy closure, this data, in conjunction with the search term data, demonstrates the strength
of the two brands and points to firm loyalty of their customers.” 

Moderator’s Comment: What is your takeaway from Gap Inc.’s decision to close its Web sites for upgrades and consumers response during the period during
and immediately following the sites being closed for business?

George Anderson – Moderator

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5 Comments on "Gap.com Going Offline Sparks Consumer Interest"


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Karen Kingsley
Guest
Karen Kingsley
15 years 5 months ago

I’m with Mark. I don’t know that there is a reliable correlation at all. And by the way, during the time the sites were down, a popular magazine listed Old Navy as having some of the best fit jeans in the marketplace. This had to drive additional traffic to that site – except it was down! Talk about a PR nightmare.

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 5 months ago

Sales increases experienced when the sites reopened could be due to the better shopping experience or different fashions or normal on-line shopping growth. I see no scientific basis for concluding that sales (on-line and in-store, combined) rose by an unusual amount due to the site shutdowns. Closing the sites temporarily lost sales from people who don’t come into the stores and can buy elsewhere. And many people use Internet sites to figure out which stores to visit. Not selling or showing merchandise tells these people to go elsewhere. I hope that executives of these companies do not get their sales analysis from their pr people.

David Berg
Guest
David Berg
15 years 5 months ago
Unlike a physical store, an Internet store is just a name that identifies a server and it can be nearly instantly moved from one set of servers running the old site to another set running the new site. There are only two reasons to take a site down for ‘repairs’: (1) marketing trick or (2) complete technical failure. In this case, I assume the former. Further, I assume the site wasn’t “down” in a technical sense (e.g. an HTML 404 no such address error), but only down in its inability to show merchandise and take sales – in other words, there was still ‘something’ there, probably an explanation / “coming soon” sign, and I assume parts of the site (like a store locator, and mailing list signup) may have still been operational. In other words, it’s a gimmick to advertise the changes to their site. (The real changes were probably done and tested months in advance.) Thus, like any other marketing gimmick, it can only be measured by its results. Also, like other gimmicks, the… Read more »
Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
15 years 5 months ago

– Could be a clever cover-up of a server meltdown during an update.

– Could be a clever marketing move designed to enhance web site attention.

– Could be that the web site wasn’t doing enough business to warrant the effort required to keep it up during an update.

Dave Wilkening
Guest
Dave Wilkening
15 years 5 months ago

The article notes that site “searches” and “traffic” went up. I saw no mention of actual purchases being up. Additionally, if the sites were offline, the sites were not producing sales. I would expect a dip in revenue as a result. Perhaps the redesigned site will generate more revenue over the holiday season just ahead.

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