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Bluelight out of Kmart's shadow

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, March 30, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO -With its website relaunch this month, BlueLight.com is offering a "Wish List" registry for a number of lifestyle segments, expanding its merchandise mix into brands not carried by Kmart, its majority parent, and pushing to convert browsers to active Kmart shoppers.

The goal, Mark Goldstein, BlueLight's president and ceo told HTT, "is to produce $100 million in online sales this year. Currently, Goldstein explained, "34 percent of what people buy in store is Web influenced." And the website is striving to increase that percentage with affinity programs and inducements for buying in-store after shopping online.

From a merchandise sales ranking, Martha Stewart Everyday currently is second only to the entire electronics category.

There is a special product assortment that is only online, "and if it is successful, it can roll into the stores," Goldstein added. For the non-Kmart products, BlueLight uses a third-party fulfillment center in Ohio.

With the relaunch of the website, there are also 3,500 in-store kiosks that let Kmart shoppers shop the site. "Customers in the stores will get rewards for BlueLight purchases," Brian Sugar, chief Web officer, explained.

The relaunch was designed to better attract the target customer, said Mercedes Feller, executive director, merchandising. That customer is a woman, slightly younger than a Kmart customer with kids 5 to 10 years old. "We call our customer SmartMommy.com, and our focus will be on the home," Sugar added.

To attract this customer, "we want to add on new product areas representing key events in life," Feller said. These include seasonal gifts, beauty and fitness and florals-all of which cross many product areas.

Home also is "really being expanded, first with Braun, Hoover, and KitchenAid as well as basic small appliances," Feller noted. "As for soft home, besides Martha Stewart Everyday, we see rugs as a very big opportunity, and we're interviewing for buyers."

Another growth potential Feller related "is baby and kids lines, we need to develop these programs as the anchor of SmartMommy."

In developing non-Kmart assortments, Keller said "we have traditional catalog buyers who always are at shows and working with vendors. We have a Kmart liaison for strategic planning and the planners at Kmart plan the buys for Kmart and the same merchandise online. Then there's automatic replenishment."

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