Discount name-brand shopping is about to hit the Web with Bluefly.com, an online clothing and accessories store being run by Pivot Rules and created by Kaufman Patricof Enterprises, both New York. Set to launch this month, the site features men's, women's and children's clothing, as well as accessories and eventually will include housewares, all at discounts from the original retail prices.
"It's a lot like Marshall's or a Loehmann's in concept, but in practice the experience is going to be much different," said Kenneth Seiff, CEO of Pivot Rules. The company formerly designed and manufactured a line of golf sportswear for men.
Bluefly.com will offer products from more than 40 designers, including Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, J. Crew and Donna Karan. Shoppers can view merchandise in different colors and styles, compare prices and place orders online. "It's a really enjoyable experience for the consumer," Seiff said. "It eliminates the hassle of looking for what you want."
Bluefly.com will include a "my catalog" function that will allow users to create their own virtual catalogs, in which they can include their measurements and clothing sizes and request up-to-the-minute information on what's available that might suit their needs. Users also can request information about specific items, and only be alerted when they become available.
The site will require extensive back-end support, all of which was designed by Kaufman Patricof Enterprises, a subsidiary of Grey Advertising. Charles Wood, senior producer at KPE, said the agency developed the graphic design, user interface design, back-end programming and database programming, as well as integration between the Web server and the fulfillment system.
The site, which Seiff said cost "well into six figures," will not be ad supported at its launch. Pivot Rules is negotiating with several portal companies for online media buys. Traditional advertising will be created in-house.
While Seiff hopes Bluefly will become the "Amazon of the off-price apparel category," James McQuivey, an analyst in online retail strategies for Forrester Research, cautioned that building a new online retail brand is a difficult thing to do.
"The days of easily jumping into the Net with what we call an Internet pure play ... are steadily drawing to a close, if they're not already gone," McQuivey said.