November 25, 2002, 12:00 AM

Specialty/Non-Apparel: Anything and Everything

(Page 6 of 6)

Date
1998
Design By
in-house
Site Search
in-house
CRM
none
Affiliate Management
LinkShare Corp.
Fulfillment
in-house
Order Management
in-house
Returns Liquidation
in-house
Web Analytics
NetIQ Corp.’s WebTrends,
Fireclick Inc.
Payment Processor
NA
Content Management
NA
E-mail Management
in-house

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SmartBargains
The sale that never ends

Scoring a bargain can be even more fun if you beat the rest of the crowd to it. At any time, online liquidator SmartBargains.com offers 2,000 to 2,500 first-quality brand name products at extra-deep discounts, but consumers must move quickly to get them. “In the course of a week there is a seismic shift in our selection,” says Carl Rosendorf, CEO of the 2-year-old company. “We tell our customers if you snooze, you lose.”

SmartBargains sources from manufacturers, jobbers and other retailers-Gordon Brothers LLC, one of the country’s oldest retail liquidators, is a major investor. The online offering includes savings of 50% to 80% below department store prices, but what really creates energy around the site is shoppers’ sense of bargains about to slip from their grasp. SmartBargains has built an inventory management system that links warehouse product levels with the consumer web site interface in real time, flagging customers with blinking warnings of a product’s run-out risk or flashing a message that a product sold out hours-even minutes-earlier.

“There’s a fun about our site that not a lot of others have,” Rosendorf says. “People compare us to eBay in that regard. You’re saving lots of money and having a great time doing it.”

SmartBargains anticipates sales over $60 million this year, and profitability in its fourth quarter ending Jan. 31, capping its second year of operation. Beyond its offering of strong brand names at bargain prices, Jupiter Research Inc. analyst Julie Deeks pins the site’s effectiveness in part on provenance. “They have contacts, a valuable asset in a business like liquidation,” she says. “And rather than spending egregiously to build a consumer brand, they’ve quietly gained notice through marketing deals with AOL and MSN.”

Shoppers who lose out are quicker to move next time, thanks to e-mail “Bargain Alerts” that are key to SmartBargains’ strategy. Some 750,000 shoppers have opted in to receive the thrice-weekly e-mails announcing new merchandise. Since word got out that some in-demand merchandise sells out on click-throughs from the alerts and never even makes it onto the web site, SmartBargains has been adding to its list at the rate of about 100,000 per month.

Though it plans to segment that list to a greater degree in the future, the kind of personalization that other retailers pursue is less relevant here. “A bargain hunter is looking for bargains more than for a particular product. It’s one reason most of our customers want to know everything we have to offer, and understanding that is key to understanding our business philosophy,” Rosendorf says. “It’s all about the thrill of the hunt.”

SmartBargains.com

Date
October 2000
Unique Visitors
5 million/mo.
Design By
in-house
Site Search
EasyAsk Inc.
CRM
Kemma Software
Affiliate Management
Be Free Inc.
Fulfillment
Irista Inc.
Order Management
Yantra Corp.
Returns Liquidation
Yantra Corp.
Web Analytics
Coremetrics Inc.
Payment Processor
in-house
Content Management
in-house
E-mail Management
Yesmail Inc.

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