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Retail Roundup: Barnes & Noble New Web Strategy, Online Retail Traffic Falls, and More

Barnes & Noble unveils strategy to keep consumers on its Web site -- Barnes & Noble Inc. recently latched onto the social-networking phenomenon by rolling out an interactive program of its own: My B&N. The integrated Web service enables users to create personal profiles around their taste in literature, movies, and music; they can select "pen names" and avatars from a library of characters, swap customer reviews and ratings, and receive updates on local store events. The new feature gives consumers reasons to linger longer on the Barnes & Noble site, allowing the bookstore chain to better advertise specials. [Source: internetretailer]

Internet retail traffic continues to drop -- Online retail traffic has slipped for the eighth week in a row, according to the newest Hitwise report. U.S. visits to Hitwise' index of 500 retail sites decreased by 3 percent for the week ending Oct. 25 compared to the same week in 2007, according to the study. "Everyone is aware of the role that the Internet plays to influence offline sales through research, so this slowdown may indicate a further ripple effect in sales in retail locations," said Heather Dougherty, research director at Hitwise. [Source: Information Week]

J. Crew promotes Michelle Obama connection -- J. Crew is the latest retailer trying to capitalize on the presidential race. Not long after Michelle Obama told Jay Leno that she purchased her skirt on J. Crew's Web site, the apparel chain bought Google screen space advertising "the look Michelle Obama wore on the Tonight Show." The retailer's e-commerce site has also added her name as a search term linked to the $105 Pembridge-dot skirt she made famous. White House/Black Market preceded J.Crew in cashing in on Michelle Obama's wardrobe; the retailer proudly touted the fact that the dress she wore during an appearance on The View was from one of its own collections. [Source: Heard on the Runway]

Dillard's to launch sale of skin-care device -- Dillard's may soon be seeing a bright spot amid the department store chain's mounting struggles with the launch of Baby Quasar Light Therapy. The tool, which is already available online at various e-commerce sites, uses Red and Infrared light therapy to treat skin. Sales in the company's consumer product line doubled in 2007 and are projected to gain more momentum in 2008, especially when the product hits select Dillard's shelves in November, just in time for the holiday season. [Source: Market Watch]

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