August 5, 2009, 12:00 AM

How the social web opens the door for a startup office supplies e-retailer

In the competitive retail office supplies market, three-time entrepreneur Sayeh Pezeshki knew she was up against formidable competition. So she launched SortingwithStyle.com as a more colorful alternative, and built a following on the social web.

In the competitive retail office supplies market, three-time entrepreneur Sayeh Pezeshki knew she was up against formidable competition with four players among the top 10 online retailers in annual sales. So she launched SortingwithStyle.com as a more colorful alternative, and built a loyal following consumers tired of manila folders on the social web.

Launched last fall, SortingwithStyle.com gets about 25% of its traffic from social web sites, including Twitter, Facebook and social shopping sites Kaboodle.com and Polyvore.com, as well as its own blog, OfficeStylist.com, Pezeshki says. “About 10% of these visitors convert to sales,” she says, noting that she uses Google Analytics to track where most visitors came from.

Pezeshski actively engages customers and prospects through social marketing, including regularly posting an Office Style Tip of the Week on Twitter while also monitoring comments about office supplies. By searching for terms like “USB hub,” Pezeshki has found, for example, a shopper posting a comment about where she could find a cute or stylish USB hub, typically a nondescript item used to plub multiple USB data ports into a computer. “We replied to her post with links to three USB hubs-in rouge, lime green and white-and 10 minutes later got a sale and a recommendation from her.” Pezeshski says.

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