A Forrester report points out challenges faced by some business-to-business firms working online.
Internet sales rose 40% to $69.5 million for the year as Sharper Image’s focus on proprietary products drove higher revenues and margins. Web sales accounted for 15% of all sales in Q4 vs. 12% a year ago.
Driven in part by Internet sales that, including auction sales, rose 40% over last year to $69.5 million, The Sharper Image Corp. reported preliminary net income of $15.4 million on total sales that increased 32% to $522 million for fiscal year ended Jan 31. For the fourth quarter, Internet sales including auction sales rose 61% to $33.1 million. In the fourth quarter, web sales helped drive record net income that rose 46% to $16.8 million on revenues that increased 32% to $220.7 million from a year ago. Q4 web sales accounted for 15% of all sales, up from 12% in the prior year’s Q4.
Contributing heavily to results is the company’s increasing focus on proprietary merchandise that drives both sales and higher margins. Together, proprietary Sharper Image Design products and Sharper Image branded merchandise now account for more than 75% of total sales, says CEO Richard Thalheimer.
Aggressive advertising spending to build brand and acquire customers over the past year drove double-digit increases in each of Sharper Image’s sales channels, which include stores, Internet and catalog, including television infomercials and b2b programs, Thalheimer says. Stores remained the biggest contributor to revenues, with total store sales increasing 28% to $296.1 million for the year and 28% to $130.5 million for the quarter. Sharper Image, which opened 20 stores over the year for a total of 127 stores, says it will add 10 to 15 stores this year.
The second-largest contributor was catalog sales, which rose 40% to $141.4 million for the year and 30% to $50.3 million for the quarter.