April 4, 2013, 9:52 AM

Mirrored sites help a manufacturer target distinct audiences

Okabashi Brands uses a single platform to manage the two e-commerce sites.

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Using a single Amazon Webstore back-end system, footwear manufacturer and retailer Okabashi Brands Inc. operates two e-commerce sites targeting distinct audiences. Okabashi.com sells flip flops that appeal to spa-goers and high-end shoppers who shop in boutiques, while Oka-b.com, is aimed at more mainstream shoppers who may buy footwear at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., says Hadi Irvani, the company’s director of e-commerce.

“By having two distinct presences we’re able to sell essentially the same products but brand them differently,” he says. Because they share a common system for managing inventory and orders, the retailer can log in to its Amazon Webstore account and toggle between the two sites to monitor sales or handle customer service issues.

Beyond branding, having two sites enables Okabashi to grab more real estate in search results,. including in paid search as the manufacturer bids on behalf of both URLs. It also enables the brand to bid for YouTube display ads twice. So when it bids to appear on a competitor’s YouTube channel, it can win the top two ad slots.

That ability to maintain two sites with common inventory, Irvani says, is a feature of Amazon Services LLC’s Amazon Webstore. Okabashi began working with Amazon Webstore two years ago when it decided to more aggressively promote sales on daily-deal sites, and recognized that would create spikes in web site traffic. When it runs deals on time-sensitive deal sites like Groupon and its smaller competitors, hordes of shoppers may quickly arrive at one of the Okabashi sites. The manufacturer wanted to be able to accommodate that traffic, and leveraging Amazon.com Inc.’s servers, for $39.99 a month, was the most cost-effective way to do that, he says.

That enabled the site to handle the surge in traffic Oka-b.com received when it recently ran a deal on a small daily-deal operator’s site. Traffic to Oka-b.com went from about 100 visitors to 2,000 in three minutes without any issues, Irvani says.

The retailer also saves money by using Amazon to process and ship orders, he says. “Before our best bet was to spend $1 million dollars per year with a major ground-shipping company, where we’d pay $7.75 per package,” he says. “With Amazon it costs us approximately $4.45.”

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