November 13, 2003, 12:00 AM

eBags targets faster growth in fifth year

When former Samsonite Corp. managers Jon Nordmark and Peter Cobb founded eBags.com in 1999, they figured it would take five years to pass the test of successful online retailing. Now they’re showing profits and targeting fast growth.

 

When former Samsonite Corp. managers Jon Nordmark and Peter Cobb founded eBags.com in 1999, they figured it would take five years to pass the test of successful online retailing. Now they’re showing profits and targeting fast growth with innovative products and services.

Almost five years after launching eBags as an e-commerce site in March 1999, CEO Nordmark figures the site has finally proven itself beyond a doubt as a long-term success. “When we started eBags, I figured that if we could last five years, we would go on to create a great big company,” he says. “We’re in our fifth year, and now we’re thinking we can reach the billion-dollar sales range.”

He says eBags has been cash-flow positive for the 12 months leading up to the third quarter, and is expecting to sell about 700,000 bags in its current fiscal year.

He attributes that outlook to several developments, including some outside of eBags itself. He cites growth in several Internet markets, ranging from travel sales to digital music, plus the expanding availability of broadband web access as factors that are making consumers in general more accustomed to purchasing online.

But he also attributes it to eBags’ constant innovation in products and the shopping experience. For example, it recently introduced a “photo on a bag” service that lets customers send in a digital photo that eBags will print on the side of a handbag.

He admits, however, that the offerings of eBags are on the back end of the Internet growth curve. Unlike travel sales and digital music, briefcases and backpacks are still products that many shoppers would rather touch before buying, he says.

 

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