Roots and IBM Canada Team Up to Launch in Time for Holiday Shopping Season

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Toronto, Ont - 24 Nov 1999: .. Roots -- Canada's leading lifestyle brand -- today launched its new Web site offering more than 200 different styles of athletic wear, leather goods, casual clothing and accessories. IBM, the technology partner of Roots, created the site and is providing the e-business products and services necessary to bring Roots' unique vision and shopping experience to online customers across Canada, and soon around the world.

Designed to be a digital extension of the Roots brand with striking images that reflect the company's Canadian heritage, is more than just an online store. Besides the powerful catalogue tool, interactive features include a gift wish list, virtual postcards that can be sent to friends, a grapevine of topical questions with online polling, and an area for sharing campfire stories. Of note, Roots of Our Lives, an interactive soap opera, allows visitors to point-and-click on their favorite celebrities to see what Roots items they're wearing, and then add these products to a shopping cart while the story continues to unfold.

"We had exciting ideas about how to bring the Roots shopping experience to our online customers, and needed a technology partner who could make our vision a reality," said Darlene Goren, Director, Corporate Operations and Technology, Roots. "IBM helped us every step of the way, with outstanding customer service that responded quickly to our needs and guided us through a very complex project."

The new site represents the first phase of Roots' global e-commerce strategy. A joint survey conducted recently by the Retail Council of Canada and IBM Canada showed that only 26 per cent of top Canadian retailers in Canada are selling online. According to information included in the study from IDC Canada, Canadian consumers spent approximately $688 million online in 1998, but because of the low number of Canadian retailers embracing the Internet for electronic commerce, 63 per cent of the dollars spent went to American Web sites.

"Roots is a perfect example of a well-established Canadian brand that is now poised to become a major presence on the Web," said Jim Ingratta, Director, e-business Consulting and Services, IBM Global Services, Canada.

"IBM is delighted to have the opportunity to help Roots achieve their e-business goals with our highly skilled people and end-to-end solutions."

Important to Roots was the full scope of e-business services that IBM Global Services could provide, from development through to hosting and maintenance. A notable component is IBM's new global merchant capability which makes it simple for online retailers to sell products in countries around the world. With the global merchant solution, Roots can collect payments in 30 different currencies without establishing new financial arrangements in each geography.

Roots was founded in 1973 by Michael Budman and Don Green with a single store in Toronto and a single product, the negative heel shoe. Roots currently has more than 125 stores across Canada, 10 in the United States and 25 in Asia. The company's leather and apparel factories in Ontario manufacture approximately ninety per cent of the products found in Roots stores.

IBM is the world's largest information technology company, with 80 years of leadership in helping businesses innovate. IBM is the only company that can provide end-to-end solutions that include hardware, software and services, offering an unmatched understanding of how businesses conduct their operations, and outstanding technical expertise to help transform any company into an e-business. For more information, please visit

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