November 30, 2004, 12:00 AM

Mass Merchants / Department Stores: Winning by leveraging more of what the web can do

(Page 5 of 5)

Take significantly discounted brand name merchandise, make it easy for shoppers to buy, then make it clear the deals are time-sensitive and in limited supply. Hordes of bargain-loving shoppers will beat a path to your door--or, in the case of discount retailer SmartBargains.com, your site. It`s no secret the combination of name brands and value appeals to consumers, but what sets SmartBargains apart is how it`s been able to mix in a third element, a sense of urgency, to drive sales. Or as CEO Carl Rosendorf likes to put it, "You snooze, you lose."

As it`s prepared this year for an upcoming IPO, SmartBargains hasn`t tampered with the formula. Instead, it`s worked to make the execution even more robust, with enhancements to the consumer experience, the merchandise offering, and back-end customer support. For example, it`s added the ability to sort by product attribute to help customers plow through more SKUs more quickly, and it`s reduced checkout from five steps to three. A new "Bill me Later" option adds a credit capability.

SmartBargains has also gone deeper into its existing categories and added new ones. A new co-branded relationship, Loehmann`s at SmartBargains.com, makes SmartBargains the exclusive online distributor for the high-end off-price retail chain. Overall, SmartBargains has more than tripled the items on its site at any given time from 3,000 to 10,000.

As it`s scaled up the business on the front end, SmartBargains has scaled up on the back end as well. This year it moved into a new 250,000-square-foot warehouse in Kentucky that`s operated by UPS Supply Chain Services, and it built a new order management system to speed up processing.

But it`s the ability to capitalize on consumers` love of snagging a deal before someone else does that remains one of SmartBargains` most important assets. "It`s a critical part of who we are," says Rosendorf. To underscore the point, the site this year launched a "going fast" feature on the home page that provides real time information on best-seller inventory as it runs down. "There are hundreds of products that sell out and hundreds that we launch every day," Rosendorf says. "So the sense of urgency is key to keeping consumers coming back."

SmartBargains.com LP
10 Milk St. Boston , MA 02108
Date Launched
November 2000
Unique visitors (monthly)
3,328,000*
Annual Web-Based Sales
$93,000,000 (2004)
Vendor Relationships
Site Design
In-house
E-Commerce Platform
In-house
Web Hosting
NA
Site Search
EasyAsk

Content Management
In-house
Order Management
In-house
Payment Processor
Paymentech
Fulfillment
UPS Supply Chain Solutions
Affiliate Marketing Management
Commission Junction
Search Engine Management
iProspect, Quigo
E-Mail Marketing
e-Dialogue
CRM
In-house
Web Analytics
Fireclick
Content Delivery Network
Akamai Technologies
*comScore Networks report, October 2004

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