Gap Looks to See if Shoe Fits Online
By George Anderson
Gap Inc. knows that some consumers simply cannot have too many shoes and it is counting on this buying behavior along with heavy traffic to its online sites to launch casual and designer footwear on the company’s Web sites for the 2006 holiday selling season.
Toby Lenk, president of Gap Inc. Direct, said in a statement, “Gap.com, OldNavy.com and BananaRepublic.com are all consistently among the top 10 specialty apparel sites in terms of traffic, so we believe we already have an active and loyal customer base for online footwear.”
The retailer surveyed its online shoppers last year to further gauge their interest in buying shoes from the retailer, said Mr. Lenk, and roughly two-thirds of respondents said “they would buy shoes online from Gap Inc.”
Stride Rite Corp., which owns brands including Keds and Saucony, is among the designers signing up with Gap Inc. to sell their shoes online.
David Chamberlain, chief executive officer of Stride Rite, told Reuters, “We have not come to a conclusion on it yet, (but) we are looking at the opportunity.”
Gap Inc. said it has signed numerous agreements with other footwear companies but that it was not ready to release that list as yet.
Richard Jaffe, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, said the upside to online for Gap Inc. is the company will not have to deal with a number of costs associated with selling shoes in stores.
On the other hand, he cautioned, there is also some downside. “You have very high return rates, as much as 25 or 30 percent on the Web, and that’s very costly. There’s also a
reluctance by the U.S. public to buy apparel on the Web.”
Moderator’s Comment: Is Gap Inc. making a positive move with its plans to sell casual and designer footwear through its online stores? What will it need
to do to be successful with online shoe sales? Would strong performance online support the retailer selling footwear in its brick and mortar locations? –
George Anderson – Moderator