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IQ News: Macy's and Clinique to Launch a Webby Christmas

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With the crucial holiday gift-giving season looming, Macy's and Clinique are both launching their largest-ever online direct sales initiatives next month.
Macy's kicks off year two of its online holiday presence with a new look www.macys.com that includes gift-giving suggestions. Dubbed "Bright Ideas," the area will offer products that will only be available through the Web site.
Macy's plans an online promotion campaign that includes banner buys on Yahoo! and possibly other search engines as well as sites targeted to women, said Susan Finkelstein, vice president of special services at Macy's West. The demographics of those who purchase gifts online is a roughly equal split between men and women-a vastly different scenario from the female-dominant shopping mix offline, Finkelstein said.
On Oct. 15, the retailer plans to expand its "e-ssentials" program, a Web-based shoppers' club begun earlier this year where members can get select merchandise such as men's shirts, underwear and hosiery shipped to their homes on a regular basis. Beginning next year, the program will be expanded, likely to include jewelry, gifts and kid's items, said Finkelstein.
Macy's is eyeing the Internet as a means to bolster it's interaction with consumers, and not necessarily mimic the plans of Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney, which offer nearly identical inventories online and off. Instead, the focus of macys.com will be to provide shopping tips and product-replenishment programs, Finkelstein added.
In conjunction with Macy's, cosmetics company Clinique goes live in November with "Clinique's Busy Women's Guide to a Hassle-free Holiday," a Web-based platform that features gift-giving ideas and special packages that can be ordered directly from www.clinique.com. The fulfillment will be handled by Macy's.
The two first partnered a year ago with the cosmetics marketer providing editorial content on Macy's wedding site, www.macysbridal.com. In June, Clinique made available 50 products for inclusion in Macy's "e-ssentials" club.
"We haven't suddenly changed our mind and said we're going to be selling online widely," cautioned Angela Kapp, Clinique's vice president of special markets and new media. The direct-sale program will only be available through Christmas and will be promoted beginning next month on Yahoo! and through emails to some 125,000 of Clinique's online registrants.
The program includes areas called "Merry Makers," "Wish List" and "Above and Beyond." Respectively, they offer time-strapped shoppers gift ideas, a registry for the shopper that permits each participant to submit email addresses of up to three gift-givers and suggestions for places to go online to shop for hard-to-find gifts.