Apparel companies Bugle Boy and The Gap will slog it out in the virtual aisles of cyberspace this Christmas season. Bugle Boy plans to launch "Virtual Store" today, while The Gap, after hinting about it for months, went live late last week with a Gap Online store.
"The Bugle Boy Virtual Store" will offer hundreds of styles and fashions on www.bugleboy.com at discounted prices, matching those in Bugle Boy's 150 or so owned-and-operated stores.
The Simi Valley, Calif.-based company decided on selling direct to customers from its site after identifying a potentially lucrative market in wired men. Whereas more women shop for the label in stores, the site has been mainly visited by men, said Kathy Mow-McCarthy, creative director, marketing. "This is a new market for us," she explained. For that reason, Bugle Boy doesn't anticipate that Web business will cut into store sales, and thus retailers won't oppose the plan. Retailers haven't been informed about Virtual Store, she added.
San Francisco-based Gap Inc. had hinted at incorporating direct-sales capabilities onto its site, Gap.com, by year-end. Since it owns and operates its own stores, The Gap was thought to be one of the first apparel labels that might do direct sales online. As The Gap did with its most recent online campaign, Work, the company intends to promote the online store aggressively with banner buys on Yahoo, Excite and Pathfinder, said Michael McCadden, senior vice president of marketing.
He added that the online store will carry a large concentration of Gap apparel. "Partially, this is a good time of year for us to launch, but it was due more to the fact that we were ready," he added.