Having secured $7 million in new working capital from San Francisco Equity Partners and Dolphin Equity Partners, The Guild is putting the money to working rebuilding its web site and continuing its migration to a new catalog and e-commerce brand: The Artful Home.
The Guild, No. 444 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites, has been selling online since 1999. The retailer’s e-commerce site carries an inventory of different types of art supplied by a network of more than 1,200 independent artists.
The site began as the e-commerce arm of a publishing company. Now, however, The Guild is migrating to TheArtfulHome.com brand and looking to build more market share in the home furnishings and home décor space.
With the infusion of new capital, The Guild is relaunching its e-commerce site with improved site search from Endeca Technologies Inc., bigger graphics and a new top-of-the-page navigation bar. With expedited site search, shoppers at TheArtfulHome.com now can search for merchandise by category, price and other specifics. The company also plans to use more rich media to help shoppers see how a piece of art looks in a particular room in the home.
To help measure web data on the back-end, The Guild is putting in place a new analytics program from Coremetrics Inc. The new design changes and the migration to a new brand are being done, executives say, to help the company build more new and repeat business among its core online customers: affluent homeowners who enjoy collecting art.
“Our shoppers have a lot of choice in selecting art, but the challenge is in helping them to find it,” says The Guild president Michael Baum. “The redesign will showcase the work of the independent artists we work with and help them find what they are looking for.”
The Guild started in 1985 as a publisher of source books to help designers and architects locate artists for commissions, while helping artists expand markets for their work. But the company’s future is clearly tied to e-commerce. The company recently launched an RSS feeds program and so far has attracted 63,455 unique visitors to the blog, with 37,190 of those unique visitors coming in through subscribed links.
“We sat down two years ago and debated staying in our own niche or building the business into something bigger,” says Baum. “We decided to seek more outside investment and make other changes in order to go to the next level.”