February 12, 2009, 12:00 AM

ideeli.com fashions a business model to support fast growth

Members-only retail site ideeli.com, which does all its business through special sale events, has recorded surging revenue growth since launching with e-commerce in May 2007, says CEO and founder Paul Hurley.

 

Members-only retail site ideeli.com, which does all its business through special sale events, has recorded surging revenue growth since launching with e-commerce in May 2007, says CEO and founder Paul Hurley.

Offering up to three special sale events each day on fashion items like handbags and sunglasses, ideeli has leveraged exposure in social networks to build up a loyal base of customers who keep coming back for the deals and the fun in seeing and sharing information on new and unusual fashions, Hurley says.

In addition to the shopping, ideeli members have access to online fashion reports produced by professional writers and an online forum for discussing trends with other members. “We think of our shopping experience as a media event, a source of entertainment and a place of community,” Hurley says.

Ideeli offers free access to its site to anyone who registers with an e-mail address; for those who pay an annual fee of $83, it offers special treatment such as early access to sales.

The ideeli model offers operating advantages over conventional retail sites. Because it attracts a steady stream of member-buyers without having to carry stockpiles of regular inventory, ideeli usually sells out of its products without spending much on marketing, Hurley says.

He adds that ideeli may have been successful in the days before online social networks, but growth would have been slower and tougher to achieve. “Our key tool is social networks as word-of-mouth grows about our great deals,” he says.

 

 

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