May 16, 2007, 12:00 AM

CSN Stores’ 155 niche web sites helped drive 2006 sales of $110 million

CSN Stores, operator of 155 web stores, posted sales growth of 79% for 2006, moving from $64 million to $110 million. The aggressive use of technology is a key factor, executives say.

Specialty retailer CSN Stores Inc. and its 155 web stores reached online sales of $110 million in 2006, up 79% from the prior year. The five-year-old company’s growth comes from its ability to “keep launching new stores and growing existing stores,” says Niraj Shah, CEO.

CSN Stores, which is No. 107 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, has developed niche web stores with complementary products such as indoor and outdoor furniture, bedding, housewares, garden tools, strollers and upholstery.

Part of CSN’s appeal is the ability to manage customer purchases in a single account that tracks purchases at any of its e-commerce sites, including Accent-Furniture-Direct.com, Bedrooms.com and CookwareEssentials.com. After logging in, customers can access a record of all purchases.

Customers who opt for an e-mail newsletter receive introductions to CSN’s other online stores, as well as promotions and offers. Operating efficiency comes from a common back-end information technology platform built in-house, Shah says.

In addition to self-developed information systems, CSN also uses “best-of-breed” commercial software tools for web analytics, content delivery and e-mail marketing.

E-commerce plans for 2007 include exploring marketing options in keyword search, price comparison engines and advertising, but Shah plans to approach such media options with care. “The landscape for purchasing media continues to change and costs grow. We’re focusing on staying on top of those technologies, but cognizant of the cost structure,” he says.

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