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Today's Man taps Qwest for Net retail site

Men's clothing superstore Today's Man says it has hired Qwest Communications International to help bring its clothing racks to the Internet.

Men's clothing superstore Today's Man said today that it has hired Qwest Communications International to help bring its clothing racks to the Internet.

The agreement makes the first customer of the Q.Commerce-Retail service which was developed as part of a strategic relationship between Qwest and Microsoft late last year.

Today's Man hopes to have the site up and running in time to take advantage of the 1999 holiday shopping season. Qwest will help develop an online retailing capability for the company which plans to sell menswear as the first phase of its e-commerce strategy.

"Today's Man revolutionized the menswear business with the marriage of value and convenience offered in its superstore format," said chief executive David Feld. "Continuing our pioneering tradition, we plan to develop and launch an e-commerce site that harnesses the power of the Internet to deliver the greatest possible menswear values in a virtual superstore that is not limited by the traditional challenges of brick and mortar retailing."

According to Forrester Research, e-commerce sales, excluding automobiles, will grow from $7.8 billion in 1998 to $108 billion by 2003. Last fall, Jupiter Communications had projected holiday sales of $2.8 billion. For all of 1998, Jupiter sized the online shopping market at $7.1 billion.

Over the past year, Qwest has been cutting one deal after another, as the youthful long distance carrier focuses on building the biggest packet-switched network the industry has ever seen. But the telco has previously noted that building a network is not a profit-making venture--selling services on a network is.

In December, software giant Microsoft invested $200 million and took a 1.33 percent stake in Qwest, as both companies said they would delve deeper into electronic commerce, Web hosting, and other mission-critical business software applications and services.

Its relationship with Microsoft has helped it to hone in on selling services to retailers. Q.Commerce-Retail includes high-speed Internet access, managed Web hosting services, hardware, software consulting, design and graphics, direct merchandising assistance, and site promotion--many of the elements required for retailers to capitalize on the explosive Internet commerce market.

"Both Qwest and Today's Man recognize the power of the Internet in the retail marketplace," said an executive at Qwest's strategic consulting. "We are creating a fully interactive, content rich, manageable site that will reward Today's Man with stronger relationships with new and existing customers."

Today's Man operates 25 superstores in the Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, D.C. markets. The company announced plans to open four more stores in 1999.