January 18, 2006, 12:00 AM

Views and reviews highlight CompactAppliance 2006 plans

Within a month, CompactAppliance.com will launch 360-degree product views. The objective is giving small appliance shoppers as much information up close and personal as possible, says senior vice president Jason Roussos.

Based on preliminary numbers, CompactAppliance.com`s 2005 sales rose 50% to $11 million, compared with 2004 sales of $7.3 million. Management attributes the considerable growth to the addition of myriad new products and a big boost in sales of heating and air conditioning products.

The company, however, does not plan to rest on its laurels. CompactAppliance.com, No. 281 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Guide to Retail Web Sites, will launch web site enhancements and marketing strategies this year with designs on continuing robust growth.

In the next two to three weeks, the online retailer will launch the “Bill Me Later” payment option and customer product reviews section. “We feel alternative payment methods will be an important part of the future of e-commerce,” says Jason Roussos, senior vice president at CompactAppliance.com. The company is using e-commerce technology from i4 Solutions for the new payment option.

The reviews functionality will enable customers to post underneath specific product listings ratings, on a scale from one to five, and comments. “A lot of the larger sites offer this kind of service,” Roussos says. “We’re going to roll it out and see what the return on investment is, see whether we get really good, helpful information.” The company is using software from Power Reviews to create this new function.

In the next month, CompactAppliance.com will launch another major site enhancement: 360-degree product views. The company is taking the countless necessary pictures and performing the computer programming in house. “This really provides a whole new level of information,” Roussos adds. “We feel it’s very important for customers to see our products from all sides to make the purchase that is best for them.”

In addition to site changes, the company is adding a new component to its marketing strategy. The focus this year will be on retaining customers. “We’re building a tool in-house that will enable us to separate customers into segments so we can better market to them,” Roussos says. “We’re a niche retailer, we’ve been around for about eight years, we’ve grown quickly, and we’ve gained many customers. But we haven’t been doing what we should to get customers to return.”

As a result, CompactAppliance.com will be building the customer segments database and initiating efforts like points-per-purchase perks in hopes of broadening its return customer numbers. “We have to focus on better customer retention,” Roussos says.

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