E-Commerce Stock Watch: What is Nike Doing?

Nike (NYSE: NKE) started selling products on its Web site last Tuesday, but you’d hardly know it. If you visit the shoe company’s site, there’s nothing on the main page that tells you anything is for sale. And, if you start clicking around, you’ll find that some selected products can be purchased, but most can’t. It’s all pretty confusing, really.

You see, Nike is trying a three-month experiment in e-commerce that will only allow customers in the United States to buy a selected portion of the Nike Alpha Project product line. After the three months are up, Nike will use what they’ve learned to create a more comprehensive e-commerce site, which will launch later in the year.

“The Internet is very much a laboratory — a global experiment in access to information and products. This is the spirit in which nike.com enters the world of e-commerce,” said Mary Kate Buckley, Director of New Business Ventures at Nike. “We also know there is a lot more for us to learn before we can be a great Web site.”

Well, at least Nike is willing to admit that. The company is charging full retail price, plus shipping and handling, for the products it’s currently selling online. Everybody knows that one of the main incentives for shopping online is to get a better deal, so you have to wonder who, if anybody, is going to buy something on Nike.com. In fact, you would think that overseas consumers would be more interested in purchasing Nike shoes online, because their access to athletic footwear may be limited. Well, those potential customers are out of luck for now.

If you’re thinking about buying Nike stock because you’ve heard they’re now serious about e-commerce, you might want to wait until the experiment is over.

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