Gap pulls retail websites

Gap Inc has surprised e-commerce experts by suspending its online retail operations without warning, apparently while the global clothing company puts the final touches to completely new e-commerce-focused websites. The three sites involved – www.gap.com, www.oldnavy.com and www.bananarepublic.com – brought in $563m (&£305m) in sales in 2004, compared with Gap Inc’s total $16.3bn (&£8.8bn) revenue.

All three sites went offline nearly two weeks ago. While the Banana Republic site is now running again, the main Gap site and the Old Navy site are still down.

Most www.gap.com visitors now see a holding message that says/ “Coming Soon: The New Gap.com. We’re updating our site with innovative new features to bring you an extraordinary shopping experience. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you. Please check back soon.” Some, however – apparently selected at random – are being given a preview of the new site.

According to Gap Inc, the three sites were taken down while new features were added. The new Bananarepublic.com site includes more information about available sizes and colours and a facility to help match co-ordinating clothing and accessories.

But e-commerce experts have questioned the way the closure has been handled. One says: “Putting a ‘site under construction’ message like this on your home page is the kind of thing a company completely new to the internet might do. For a company like Gap, it seems shockingly amateurish. The transition should have been handled better.”

A Gap Inc US spokeswoman says: “We did talk about this in April and we have been planning a major overhaul of the site for quite some time. It’s not an unexpected event.”

The new Gap site appears to target North America almost exclusively. All prices are in US dollars, and the free shipping offers only apply to deliveries in the US. There appear to be no links to Gap operations outside the US, and the only place where Gap stores outside the US are even mentioned is in the “store locator” section.

It is unclear whether Gap plans to launch a UK- or Europe-specific site. In the UK, www.gap.co.uk is owned by an IT consultancy. Gap Inc appears to have registered www.thegap.co.uk, although no site has been put up at this address.

Latest from Marketing Week

NOT REGISTERED? IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here