October 30, 2008, 12:00 AM

CompactAppliance.com breaks out of the box with more niches

With a new e-commerce platform, CompactAppliance.com can make faster changes to web site design and launch microsites to serve new market niches.

As it builds beyond its initial niche of selling appliances and home furnishings sized for apartment dwellers, there’s nothing compact about CompactAppliance.com’s strategy of expanding into new markets.

With a new e-commerce platform from Demandware Inc., the retailer is able to make faster changes to web site design and more quickly launch microsites serving markets as diverse as beer-cooling equipment and tankless hot water heaters, says Jason Roussos, president of Richlund Ventures Inc., operator of CompactAppliance and its growing roster of microsites.

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. “We can now build multiple web sites in a hosted environment using just one standard catalog, and do it quickly,” Roussos says.

CompactAppliance.com also installed an analytics package from Omniture Inc. and an e-mail marketing program from Yesmail, a unit of InfoGroup Inc.

CompactAppliance.com, which generated web sales of $30 million in 2007, recently 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. The company plans to 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.

Another of its microsites, 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.”

paul@verticalwebmedia.com

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