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Attention Discount Shoppers: T.J.Maxx Is Online!
By: Amanda Markell
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Massachusetts-based brand T.J.Maxx launched its new online platform last week far below the radar, sneaking quietly into the ecommerce world. The off-priced brand faces a huge challenge in launching e-commerce, a lesson they learned the hard way in 2004 when it cost them $15 million.
The company is staying away from PR and media as they take the time to work out the kinks of the site and make sure to do it right the second time around. This tjmaxx.com initiative is no small task, and TJX geared up for it with two years of planning, expansion of their team, and investment in Sierra Trading Post.
Acquired in December 2012 for $200 million, Sierra Trading Post is an off-price Internet retailer based in Cheyenne, Wyoming. With this acquisition TJX gained 700 associates with ecommerce experience, office space, a fulfillment center, photography studios, and a call center. Key ingredients to launching their new site. In TJX’s 2012 annual report the company stated, "We view Sierra Trading Post as providing immediate scale, giving us tremendous knowledge and infrastructure for our e-commerce business."
So why is off-price online selling different (and in some ways more difficult) than full-price? A full-price retailer will know their product line and price points a year or more in advance, more or less. T.J.Maxx receives their inventory from over 16,000 vendors, purchasing excess runs and off-season fashions. This means shorter cycles and variable time frames for getting the inventory live.
TJMaxx.com currently offers women's clothing, shoes, handbags, and even their high-end "The Runway" product line that offers brands like Diane Von Furstenberg, Dolce and Gabbana, and Roberto Cavalli. TJMaxx.com has capabilities on tablets and smartphones, said Doreen Thompson, TJX Vice President of corporate communications. To celebrate the launch in a subtle way, the site is offering free shipping on orders of $75 or more as a "sweet deal to start." We can anticipate seeing more capabilities from the site as TJX develops beyond the small controlled mode. 
With this shift in distribution positioning TJ Maxx gains more direct competitors in flash sale companies like Rue La La, GILT, HauteLook, and more. However they are also gaining access to the fruitful young online shopper segment.
Could this move foreshadow the online sales of HomeGoods? HomeGoods' online presence currently only exists as a blog and resource to find stores. Do you think the T.J.Maxx testing environment allows a future life of the HomeGoods ecommerce channel? Tell us what you think @beneaththebrand.


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About the Author
Amanda Markell is a marketer in the Greater Boston Area with a passion for branding, new media, and customer insights. 
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