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Nike Opens Online Store

June 23, 1999

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Air Jordan launched into cyberspace Monday with ``nike.com,″ an online shopping center that allows Web surfers to order Nike’s latest line of shoes, apparel and equipment.

``A lot of our customers will have to develop the habit of ordering online or getting information about our products online and then going into the store and buying them,″ said Mary Kate Buckley, manager of Nike’s Web site superstore.

The new, redesigned site was up and running, but Buckley said it would be Wednesday before the athletic shoe giant would know how many orders were filed on opening day.

Officials of the Beaverton-based company would not say how much online business they project, but Buckley said it would be only a small percentage of their $9 billion in annual sales. In the initial months, the online service will sell just half of the company’s footwear line and only 30 percent of its clothes.

``Three months ago we launched a small test site that taught us a lot about the potential of e-commerce and consumer preferences,″ Buckley said.

Visitors navigate the site by sorting through products broken down by sport, including tennis, football, fitness, running, basketball, soccer and golf. The site also features news updates on products, athletes and sporting events.

Visitors can even click on a special section called ``Movie-Maker,″ which allows them to use Nike imagery and sound tracks to make multimedia messages that can be e-mailed to friends.

``I hate to characterize anything as cool,″ said Bob Lambie, the site’s Web designer. ``But the overriding characteristic of this site is a sense of fun. Sports is fun.″

While projected Internet sales are low, analysts say it’s important for companies simply to have a presence on the Web.

``It’s a matter of credibility,″ said Brian Murphy, editor of Connecticut-based Sports Marketing Letter.

``We’ve come to the point where we think if an organization is big enough and important enough, it certainly must have a Web site,″ he said. ``And staying ahead would certainly include e-commerce.″

Murphy said Internet businesses are still trying to prove themselves but often have an advantage of low overhead because they can sell directly to the consumer and avoid the middle man.

``Whatever you can sell effectively in a catalog, you can sell effectively online, which is essentially nothing but a giant electronic catalog,″ he said.

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