Shoppers have become more comfortable buying art as well as picture frames on the web, resulting in robust business at Barewalls.com, CEO Lorne Lieberman says. “We’re up 20% so far this year,” he says.
Still, he’s not satisfied and wants to capture more of what he figures is $10 billion in annual sales at some 30,000 art print and poster stores. And he figures a good way to get some of that market is by selling through a new channel-web-based kiosks in 7-Eleven Inc. convenience stores. “We believe we can only increase our share of the art business through kiosks,” he says.
Barewalls recently joined a small but growing number of retailers that have signed up to sell over the Cyphermint Inc. kiosk network, which lets consumers make online purchases on web-based kiosks with checks or cash credited to a Cyphermint Pay Cash account. Kiosks using the Cyphermint system are being rolled out in some 1,500 7-Eleven stores this year and eventually to all 5,800 stores in North America.
Other businesses selling through the Cyphermint system include 1-800-Flowers, JewelrySprite.com, Alliance Entertainment, Universal Tickets Plus, Quick Gifts and CarFax, says Ken Stempler, vice president of sales and marketing for Cyphermint.
For Barewalls, the 7-Eleven kiosk channel is an excellent way to reach out to new customers without having to invest in brick-and-mortar. “It’s capturing spontaneous purchases by people who walk into a store as well as those who didn’t know they could buy art on the Internet or were just not comfortable buying on the Internet,” Lieberman says.
At 1-800-Flowers.com Inc., selling through a new channel was a natural development for a retailer that takes pride in being among the first to try new sales techniques. “We were one of the first retailers whose name was a phone number, then we became a pioneer online in 1992, so we have a history in exploring new techniques,” a spokesman says. “This gives us additional exposure, particularly with people on the go.”
1-800-Flowers also is intrigued by the notion of customers paying cash for an online purchase. “Accepting cash for online payments is interesting,” the spokesman says. “If you don’t have a credit card but have $100 and need to buy a gift, this offers a different twist. It will be interesting to see if this test changes our customer demographics.”