July 30, 2008, 12:00 AM

Web fortunes head in different directions for Cymax Stores and Wilsons Leather

While leather goods retailer Wilsons has decided to discontinue web sales to focus on its mall stores, home furnishings retailer Cymax Stores is building out its web strategy with plans for as many as 200 online stores by the end of this year.

Internet Retailer

Cymax Stores Inc. and Wilsons The Leather Experts are two retailers with opposing fortunes in e-commerce. Cymax, a web-only niche home furnishings and electronics retailer, has grown from about 30 to 112 niche web stores in the past year. Wilsons Leather, a retail chain specializing in garments and accessories, always has been a store-focused company, but in July the company walked away from e-commerce altogether.

The two companies’ web experiences are products of their marketing strategies. Wilsons has been a mall-based leather goods retailer while Cymax was born and raised online. Wilsons has had a tougher time across all channels as it searches for its place in retailing and has crafted a new plan to focus on “studio” stores in malls, presumably narrowing product choices along the way.

By December, Cymax could be operating as many as 200 online stores. Sales in 2008 also are forecast to rise by about 38% to $45 million from $32.5 million. Since June Cymax has launched seven new niche sites aimed at buyers of patio furniture.

Cymax recently updated its site search application from Mercado to include more attribute-based search functionality and added customer reviews technology from PowerReviews Inc.

Cymax, based in Vancouver, British Colombia, sells most of its merchandise in the U.S. But with a new Canadian site, Cymax has increased sales from Canadian shoppers from about $50,000 per month to between $300,000 and $400,000, says Cymax CEO Arash Fasihi.

Wilsons, by contrast, has closed the book on its web sales and 116 outlet stores by selling all related assets for $22.3 million to AM Retail Group Inc., a subsidiary of G-III Apparel Group Ltd.

The sale is part of Wilsons’ stated strategy to obtain capital for the launch of its new mall accessories “studio” store concept in its remaining 100 mall stores. Wilsons plans to change its name to PreVu Inc.

Wilsons reported e-commerce revenue of $7 million for 2007, up by 6.5% from about $6.6 million in the prior year.

billb@verticalwebmedia.com

Comments | 2 Responses

  • All, beware, the Cymax business model. From my recent experience here is their business model. Cymax Charges a customer credit card. Cymax delays processing the merchandise order until the customer contacts Cymax to inquire as to the anticipated delivery. Cymax then processes the order for 50% of the merchandise and delays delivery claiming that they are waiting to be certain that 100% of the merchandise will be delivered. They delay delivery 3 times claiming that they need to make sure that all items are on their deiivery schedule. Cymax delivers on the 3rd scheduled delivery and then only delivers 50% of the items ordered and paid for. Only after deliverying 50% of the furniture do they tell you that not everything was loaded and that they will return in the morning with the balance of the merchandise. Obviously there is no additional delivery. They never ordered 100% of the merchandise. And now the rest of the charade begins....they claim that they need to investigate and will be back in 4-6 business days. They then claim that the merchandise was never shipped and they need to re-order. After another 4-6 days they never re-ordered. At the end of several 4-6 days of waiting, I request a cancellation. They need to investigate and will be back to me within 4-6 days. After several rounds of waiting, I place a cancellation on line - meanwhile they act apologetic and claim that they will cancel the transaction and refund me without penalty. Then they send a message that claims I will have to pay restocking and return shipping fees and have still not credited me for merchandise that I have not received. This absurd "looking into" exercise goes on for months - meanwhile they have my money and have failed to deliver or resolve the situation. When they finally issue an RMA to return the partial delivery, they give the customer 15 days [including weekends and holidays] to return in the original packing. Mind you they did not deliver with any boxes or packing - and will not accept returns without the original packaging. So essentially, they take customer funds and fail to deliver what was ordered. In my review of the company I have found that the treatment that I have received is customary. This retailer should be investigated - not congratulated.

    • Our customer placed an order online and her order was shipped with one of our reliable White Glove Service carriers. Firstly, we apologize on behalf of them for the delays in shipping and the 3 delivery attempts they made that were unsuccessful. Unfortunately in the shipping world inevitable delays and problematic issues do arise. We were notified by our customer that 2 of her 5 items ordered were not delivered. We understand (based on the customer’s response) that the delivery carrier advised her that they were trying to find all of her items, and delayed delivery until all items were found. Once they did finally arrive they did not arrive with all her items. Once we were notified of this, we contacted the manufacturer to attain the paperwork stating that all 5 pieces were sent from their warehouse. We contacted the carrier who advised that all 5 pieces were delivered and signed for. This caused a delay in locating all missing items. We then received an email from the shipping company advising that there were pieces missing. Retrieving the paperwork to make sense of where the missing furniture was; we agree untimely, but in this situation necessary. In these unfortunate cases, if an item is missing or damaged for a customer, our Replacement Policy states that we will replace it for the customer at our charge. As the customer did not want us to replace the missing items at our cost we needed to find alternate options for her outside of our Standard Return and Replacement Policy that was agreed to. We acknowledge that this experience was less than optimal for our customer and have fully rectified the situation by refunding her in full and have picked up the items she received.

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