Gap Merges The E-Commerce Backend Of Its Four Brands

Shoppers at will now be able to use a single shopping cart and consolidate shipping at any of the chain's four brands, the Gap announced on Tuesday (May 27).

But the change for The Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and PiperLime is delicate, as the company still wants those brands to maintain their distinct personalities. Those conflicting goals give the new site a bit of a Jekyll-and-Hyde feel, as though a long-time favorite clothing store suddenly stopped remembering to take its medication.

For example, all four brand names are now prominently atop the navigation of every page, allowing the customer to move back and forth between brands. But a search for shoes, for example, has to be directed at one brand at a time. Given that the merger is designed for consumers who already shop at more than one of the Gap brands, the lack of a universal search seems odd.

The company also consolidated their shipping plans. Old Navy, for example, used to ship for a $5 flat rate, PiperLime was free and Banana Republic charged $7. Now all sites offer the $7 flat-rate program. PiperLime, which focuses on very high-end looking packaging, will continue to ship free and will ship separately. But purchases from any of the other three brands will arrive in one box.

The $16 billion chain, which operates more than 3,100 stores in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, France, Japan and Ireland, went through "a major rehaul of our online platform, from soup to nuts" in 2005, said Gap spokesperson Kris Marubio. "That gave us the platform for future projects." This is what resulted three years later.