In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
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But that’s what Sharper Image Corp. strives to do, and it does it well, says Kathryn Cullen, principal with retail consultants Kurt Salmon Associates. “Sharper Image knows why people come to them-so they can buy what’s new and cool,” she says. But by mixing up its product line with traditional furnishings for the home and personal use, like the Happy Eyes desk lamp and the Human Touch foot massage chair, and providing numerous ways to shop in multiple channels-stores, catalogs, TV infomercials and SharperImage.com -it makes shopping in an innovative atmosphere easy and fun, Cullen says.
And as befits a retailer that caters to shoppers who seek out high-tech innovation, Sharper Image excels with merchandising and customer service strategies on the web, Cullen adds. “Sharper-
Image.com offers multiple access methods for finding products, so any time you go to their web site, you can get through quickly and easily,” she says.
Sharper Image also maximizes its web presence for cross-merchandising purposes. The product page for the Roomba, for example, provides links to extensive product information and a video clip of the robotic cleaner in action, showing how it would self-propel around rooms that the shopper might want to furnish with other items displayed on the same page.
The success of the retailer’s web merchandising strategy is borne out in consistent financial reports showing strong growth in all channels, but with online sales growth outpacing others. Although it has opened close to 20 new stores annually since 2001, which will bring its total to 149 by the Jan. 31 end of its 2004 fiscal year, Sharper Image’s web sales continue to rise as a percent of overall sales. For its third quarter ended Oct. 31, sales on SharperImage.com rose 36% year-over-year to $17.4 million, accounting for 13.6% of total sales, up from 12.4% a year earlier. For the nine months ended Oct. 31, web sales increased 42% year-over-year to $52.5 million, while total store sales (including stores opened within those nine months) rose 27% and catalog sales rose 16%.
“We have great sales momentum in all channels,” CEO and founder Richard Thalheimer says. Innovation in both products and merchandising, he adds, will keep that momentum climbing.
Unique Visitors (monthly)
First National Bank of Omaha
Search Engine Management
Content Deliver Network
*As reported by comScore Networks Inc.