August 24, 2010, 3:50 PM

Overstock launches a private-sale site

Eziba.com offers limited quantities of home goods for a set time period.

Lead Photo

A screenshot of Eziba.com

Overstock.com Inc. has launched Eziba.com, a private-sale site that offers limited quantities of home goods that are available for a set time period, typically between 48 and 72 hours.

Eziba is Overstock’s first private-sale site. But based on its success, the retailer may branch out into other product categories that take advantage of Overstock’s existing buyer relationships.

“It’s been a fairly small investment, and if it is successful I could foresee us moving into other areas,” says Jonathan Johnson, president of Overstock, No. 28 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Overstock had a soft launch of Eziba.com on Aug. 10, when the retailer e-mailed a small group of existing Overstock customers to generate some site traffic to ensure the site worked properly. The rest of Overstock’s customer database will receive promotional e-mails notifying them of Eziba this week.

The company initially will market the site to existing Overstock customers, Johnson says. “To start with we are focusing on e-mail. We’re going to try to make this a low-cost launch,” he says.

Overstock customers can use their existing log-in information to access Eziba sales. Eziba features at least seven brands daily and, like Overstock, offers a $2.95 flat shipping rate. Products include, for example, KitchenAid stand mixers, Lenox tableware and C.G. Sparks furniture. Johnson says the products on Eziba are not available on Overstock during the sale window, but may also be sold on Overstock at a later date depending on inventory levels and manufacturer preferences.

Eziba also is aimed at alleviating some high-end manufacturers’ concerns about selling their products on a site called Overstock, he says. “Eziba helps us with suppliers who are eager to sell through us but not be on the site. As good as we think we are there is still some stigma about selling on a site called Overstock.com,” Johnson says.

The Eziba name has its own history. Eziba.com originally launched in 1999 as an online and catalog-based retailer of hand-crafted home goods, most made by artisans in third-world countries. After the retailer folded in 2005, Overstock bought its inventory, mailing lists and name rights that year.

However, Johnson says he doesn’t expect the new Eziba site to enjoy any brand loyalty from previous consumers. “That’d be bonus but it wasn’t the reason we launched with the Eziba name,” he says. “It was more that we had the name in our stable of URLs.” Overstock’s staff will handle the private-sale site’s operating functions. Johnson says the company has one buyer working exclusively on sourcing Eziba deals but that he expects the number to increase.

Johnson declined to reveal early traffic or sales results for Eziba but says he is pleased with the site’s perfomance and that it is meeting expectations. “We’re excited about Eziba and see it as a nice addition to our business,” he says.

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