November 25, 2002, 12:00 AM

Mass Merchants: Aggressive and innovative

(Page 3 of 6)

In another unexpected development, sellers and buyers are going beyond eBay’s traditional auction sales and opting instead for its Buy It Now service for immediate purchases. For the third quarter, 24% of its $3.77 billion in gross merchandise sales transactions were through Buy It Now. “That’s almost as much as Amazon,” Jordan says.

Judging by the amount of traffic flowing through eBay, growth is likely to continue. It has 55 million registered users worldwide, and in October its average number of unique monthly visitors reached 5.8 million. With a presence in 27 countries, it handles transactions for $40 million in sales every day.

eBay.com

Date
September 1995
Unique Visitors
21 million/mo.
Sales
$14.5 billion/yr. gross merchandise sales
Design By
in-house

Site Search

Thunderstone Software LLC
CRM
N/A
Affiliate Management
Commission Junction Inc.
Fulfillment
none
Order Management
none

Returns Liquidation

N/A
Web Analytics
N/A
Payment Processor
Wells Fargo (U.S.), WestPac (Aust.), ABN Amro (Ger.), others
Content Management
Idiom, Akamai Technologies Inc.
E-mail Management
in-house

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Lowe’s
Winning strategy nails web to stores

DIYers use Lowes.com to build out their homes, logging on for materials and information on projects ranging from finishing floors to installing a sink. Lowe’s Cos. Inc. is using Lowes.com to build something as well: a bigger brand. As Lowe’s continues its transformation from a chain of hardware stores to a national network of home improvement superstores, the web plays a key role.

Though Lowe’s doesn’t break out its annual $22 billion sales by channel, online sales and traffic have risen rapidly since the site added commerce in 2000. Analyzing customer information showed that online visitors who logged on for information also wanted to see the cordless drill or power saw they’d need to complete their projects.

Lowes.com has three roles: it’s an extension of the brand, it helps customers track down what they need online or in their local store, and, says Meg Armstrong, director of business development and marketing for Lowes.com, it offers “education, guidance and inspiration.” And how. With 25,000 SKUs-more than half of Lowe’s in-store offering of 40,000-and more than 100 online buying guides and how-to’s including an increasing number in Spanish, Lowes.com provides serious help for those in the throes of a home improvement project and ideas for those just getting started. Online product demonstrations let visitors learn about a specific brand while more project-oriented instructions might show how to create a right angle when building a deck.

Lowes.com’s cool tools-manufacturer-specific interactive sites within the site-number half a dozen and are growing. ClosetMaid’s design-a-closet tool, for example, queries customers about size and storage needs, then recommends a customized closet layout. Armstrong Floors’ design-a-room tool lets shoppers select a room image and decorative style, then try out flooring options.

Retail Forward vice president Goeff Wissman notes that besides attracting customers, Lowe’s uses the sites within a site as selling tools to strengthen ties with vendor partners. “The information they provide online is easy to get at and easy for homeowners to understand,” he says. “Some of the interactive how-to’s are pretty impressive.”

Lowe’s back-end system automatically links site visitors interested in products to local store inventory and pricing. “The idea is to tie the site with the store experience and not lose any continuity for our shoppers,” says Armstrong. “We want to give people a place where they can shop at their leisure, research at their own pace, and shop when they want to get the Lowe’s experience all day, every day.”

Lowes.com

Date
November 2000
Unique Visitors
40-45 million/yr.
Design By
in-house
Site Search
Verity Inc.
CRM
in-house
Affiliate Management
none
Fulfillment
in-house
Order Management
in-house
Returns Liquidation
internal
Web Analytics
NetIQ Corp.
Payment Processor
in-house
Content Management
Interwoven Inc.,
Akamai Technologies Inc.
E-mail Management
CheetahMail Inc.

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Office Depot
How many ways can one use the web?

With $2 billion in sales from 20 U.S. and international web sites, it seems Office Depot Inc. has the web market all sewn up. But Office Depot doesn’t think so. It’s constantly finding new ways to use the web. A deal to sell office products at Amazon.com under the Office Depot brand and a series of online webcasts for small business owners are only the latest manifestations of a drive to get as much out of the web as possible. “We’re taking the web to the next plane as far as customer communication is concerned,” says Monica Luechtefeld, senior vice president of e-commerce at Delray Beach, Fla.-based Office Depot.

Its webcasts for small business owners are part of an effort to build an information resource center at OfficeDepot.com. It will include, for instance, standard forms that office managers can download as well as articles about how to run a business-all at no cost. But Office Depot is betting such users will become buyers. “Offering this information attracts certain groups whose profile is a lot like our best buyers,” Luechtefeld says.

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