October 15, 2008, 12:00 AM

CompactAppliance.com thinks of the bigger strategic picture

An updated e-commerce platform launched in conjunction with new technology upgrades is helping CompactAppliance.com diversify its web strategy. With new technology, CompactAppliance is launching a universal brand: LivingDirect.com.

Bill Briggs

Senior Editor

An updated e-commerce platform launched in conjunction with other new technology is helping CompactAppliance.com diversify its web strategy.

This summer CompactAppliance.com, No. 259 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide , moved from its old e-commerce platform from MarketLive Inc. to a hosted application from Demandware. CompactAppliance.com also installed an analytics package from Omniture and an e-mail marketing program from Yesmail.

With better technology, the online retailer now can make major design changes faster, which is speeding up the launch of more microsites, says Jason Roussos, president of Richlund Ventures Inc., operator of CompactAppliance.com. “We can now build multiple web sites in a hosted environment using just one standard catalog, and do it quickly,” Roussos says.

Also this summer CompactAppliance.com, which generated web sales of $30 million in 2007, launched LivingDirect.com as a universal branding site. Over time CompactAppliance.com will launch more microsites such as kegerator.com, a forthcoming e-commerce destination that will sell a variety of beer cooling equipment and related accessories. But the company also will use LivingDirect.com, which sells wine and beverage cooling and dispensing products, compact appliances and specialty items, as a universal brand that will drive traffic to its present and future microsites, Roussos says.

CompactAppliance.com was founded as a niche business–the site carries more than 1,500 SKUs and specializes in selling small appliances for tight living and office space. Another microsite, HotwaterSource.com, sells tankless water heaters. By migrating to a universal brand, CompactAppliance.com sees a new opportunity to appeal to a broader universe of specialty appliance shoppers and improve its online marketing program, including search engine optimization. “LivingDirect.com will be a destination and over time will become our main brand,” Roussos says. “Shoppers can come to LivingDirect.com and do a live chat, read and participate in customer reviews, and blog. It will be a branded entity for specialized appliance shoppers.”

Bolstered by upgraded technology and a more diversified e-commerce strategy, CompactAppliance.com expects to finish out the year in good order, with web sales up by 25% or higher, he says.

Jason Roussos spoke in June at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition and his audio-visual presentation at IRCE 2008 is available on CD-ROM.

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