INTERACTIVE: How will Conde Nast handle Burton Group’s online shopping venture? - CASE STUDY/BURTON GROUP/The Internet services from Burtons Menswear aim to be dynamic yet coherent, Gideon Summerfield says

From the recent machinations within the Burton Group, it is clear that its foray on to the Internet late last year is no mere marketing exercise. Its six sites, all designed and maintained by the magazine publisher, Conde Nast, are meant as a prelude to a full online shopping service.

From the recent machinations within the Burton Group, it is clear

that its foray on to the Internet late last year is no mere marketing

exercise. Its six sites, all designed and maintained by the magazine

publisher, Conde Nast, are meant as a prelude to a full online shopping

service.



In the past year, the group has acquired two home-shopping companies:

Innovations, the gadget vendor, and the catalogue and retail outlet,

Racing Green. Last month, Robert Klein, the former chief executive of

Innovations, was appointed managing director of the newly formed home

shopping development and sevices division. His boss, the group executive

director, Richard Maney, confirms that the Burton Group has plans to

launch, in the relatively near future, both catalogue-based and online

shopping services.



Initially, however, the decision was to launch the Burton site without

shopping. And it was for this reason that the Burton Group sought out

Conde Nast.



’John Horner (Burton’s chief executive) and I were very impressed with

what Conde Nast was doing,’ Maney says. ’It had the ability to provide

very exciting images. With no shopping service, we wanted to make the

sites as visually stimulating as possible.’



The account marks a major departure for Conde Nast into online contract

publishing. Until three months ago, its Interactive department was

entirely occupied servicing the Internet presence of titles such as

Vogue, Tatler and GQ. It had also created several advertorial adjuncts

to its magazine sites, for the likes of Rover/MG.



But the Burton deal was the start of something new. Since taking it on,

a handful of smaller contracts have come its way. Watches of Switzerland

is another to have just gone live.



’A couple of the Burton Group companies had a minor Internet presence,

but they had a flat, corporate feel,’ Dan Connahan, the editor of Conde

Nast Interactive, says. What his team has created, in just three months,

is around 1,200 Web pages for six sites: Debenhams, Burtons Menswear,

Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Principles, TopShop and TopMan.



The sites share a similar design and mix of content: a news section,

fashion and product information, a store directory, a competition, and a

couple of lifestyle features. Each site is an independent entity, with

its own Web address. Connahan’s department has been working with the six

marketing departments to develop the content and has taken advice from

Conde Nast’s editorial staff to target each brand’s customers.



’The TopShop site has a piece on Laura Bailey, who we feel is a good

role model for its customers,’ Connahan says. ’We’ve tried to understand

the culture involved in each of the brands.’



That goes for presentation too. Evans customers, for example, are

unlikely to be familiar with the Internet, Connahan says, so the site is

clean and unintimidating.



The sites have a monthly cycle, with about a quarter of their pages

being refreshed each time. Conde Nast is also harvesting e-mail for

Burton and collecting information from competitions and visitor

feedback.



Just a few weeks online and the site has received a lot of traffic,

Maney claims, though he won’t give figures. ’We have several measuring

tools, but I don’t want to go into the specifics. The interactivity with

the customer and their ability to talk to us allows us to measure the

success of the sites. And we can track how many users are using which

pages.’



The sites will be promoted in-store, directly to store card-holders and

with ads in Internet magazines.



Web addresses will be carried in advertising where appropriate. ’I can’t

see why carrying it would be anything but positive,’ Maney says.



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