Private investment firm Comvest Partners acquires the financially troubled e-retailer, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March.
The amount of products that web-based kiosks in 7-Eleven stores are selling, is expanding, with everything from art from Barewalls.com to jewelry and event tickets.
Shoppers have become more comfortable buying art as well as picture frames on the web, resulting in robust business at Barewalls.com, CEO Lorne Lieberman says. “We’re up 20% so far this year,” he says.
Still, he’s not satisfied and wants to capture more of what he figures is $10 billion in annual sales at some 30,000 art print and poster stores. And he figures a good way to get some of that market is by selling through a new channel-web-based kiosks in 7-Eleven Inc. convenience stores. “We believe we can only increase our share of the art business through kiosks,” he says.
Barewalls recently joined a small but growing number of retailers that have signed up to sell over the Cyphermint Inc. kiosk network, which lets consumers make online purchases on web-based kiosks with checks or cash credited to a Cyphermint Pay Cash account. Kiosks using the Cyphermint system are being rolled out in some 1,500 7-Eleven stores this year and eventually to all 5,800 stores in North America.
Other businesses selling through the Cyphermint system include 1-800-Flowers, JewelrySprite.com, Alliance Entertainment, Universal Tickets Plus, Quick Gifts and CarFax, says Ken Stempler, vice president of sales and marketing for Cyphermint.
For Barewalls, the 7-Eleven kiosk channel is an excellent way to reach out to new customers without having to invest in brick-and-mortar. “It’s capturing spontaneous purchases by people who walk into a store as well as those who didn’t know they could buy art on the Internet or were just not comfortable buying on the Internet,” Lieberman says.
At 1-800-Flowers.com Inc., selling through a new channel was a natural development for a retailer that takes pride in being among the first to try new sales techniques. “We were one of the first retailers whose name was a phone number, then we became a pioneer online in 1992, so we have a history in exploring new techniques,” a spokesman says. “This gives us additional exposure, particularly with people on the go.”
1-800-Flowers also is intrigued by the notion of customers paying cash for an online purchase. “Accepting cash for online payments is interesting,” the spokesman says. “If you don’t have a credit card but have $100 and need to buy a gift, this offers a different twist. It will be interesting to see if this test changes our customer demographics.”