|Why They're Hot:
Kitsy Lane puts a social spin on the direct sales model. The retailer offers a free platform that lets consumers build their own online boutiques where they sell Kitsy Lane's wares; sellers earn a commission on each sale. The platform provides boutique owners with merchandising tools that integrate owners' Facebook accounts so they can highlight their stores' merchandise on the social network. It also offers free e-mail marketing tools store owners can use to send customized messages to their customers. The model seems to work; the retailer has more than 100,000 boutiques and about 40% have made a sale in the past four months. "This is easier than the old way of direct selling," says CEO Andy Fox. "[Boutique owners] don't need to buy inventory and they can sell to customers anywhere in the country."