December 5, 2011, 10:56 AM

Housewares / Home / Hardware

Products for the home sold with style and intellect

Lead Photo

Shopping for home décor and accessories often means scouting out something beautiful, something that charms a consumer in an emotional way and aids her in imagining the product fitting perfectly in her own home. That's what makes the housewares and home furnishings retailers in this year's Hot 100 stand out from the rest—they draw visitors in with their beautiful, yet often classically simple imagery and tantalize them with smart, concise product descriptions.

Take newcomer Fab.com (1 million members in 5 months: http://www.internetretailer.com/2011/11/15/fabcom-reaches-1-million-members-five-months), a members-only flash sale site for design-inspired items. While the site is geared towards designers, Fab.com works because of its no-nonsense aesthetic. The home page brings front and center the products on off er each day, with only one large photo attached to each designer. Those photos are accompanied by just a few words of description, such as "Seductively Sweet Jewelry" for jewelry designer Michelle Chang, or "Military Meets Modern Furniture" for furniture designer stephenKENN.

Williams-Sonoma.com (latest earnings: http://www.internetretailer.com/2011/11/18/web-sales-latest-quarter-continue-nice-upswing-w) and TheGardenGates.com (new studio: http://www.internetretailer.com/2011/10/04/garden-gates-photo-studio-better-captures-upscale-products) have a similar look and feel, with one or two large images of mouth-watering Thanksgiving turkeys or velvety soft bed linens blanketing the home pages. More detailed descriptions are available the deeper shoppers click through the sites, and meaty product reviews and multiple zoom functions are the norm.

The home furnishings and housewares retailers don't cut back when it comes to navigation, however. Most provide several options for poking around their sites, including drop-down navigation bars and fl y-out windows promoting special off ers. Common in this category are filters that enable consumers to shop by brand or by category, and these e-retailers often devote sections of their sites to popular or current categories. Williams-Sonoma, for example, featured a Shop Thanksgiving tools section in late October and November, and SurLaTable.com (SurLaTable sold: http://www.internetretailer.com/2011/09/23/sur-la-table-sold-investcorp) highlighted Stocking Stuff ers, Artisan Ornaments and Exclusive Gift Sets in advance of the holiday shopping season.

Some retailers like OverstockArt.com take the idea of enabling shoppers to imagine products in their own homes to another level. The retailer, which sells handpainted reproductions of famous oil paintings, allows shoppers to upload photos of rooms in their homes and overlay paintings on them to see how they'll look.

E-Retailers Awarded the Hot 100 of Housewares / Home / Hardware:

FAB.COM, OVERSTOCKART.COM, ROOM AND BOARD, RUGSDIRECT.COM, SURLATABLE.COM, TEMPURPEDIC.COM, THEGARDENGATES.COM, WILLIAMS-SONOMA.COM

To Order the Entire December 2011 Hot 100 Issue: Click Here

To View a Sample Profile Page: Click Here

To View the Entire List: Click Here

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