October 31, 2007, 12:00 AM

EHobbies.com returns to Yahoo Stores

Online retailer eHobbies.com has successfully made the transition from Amazon Services back to running on a Yahoo Stores platform and doing its own fulfillment. The company also now is under the direction of CEO Ken Kikkawa.

Online retailer eHobbies.com has successfully made the transition from Amazon Services back to running on a Yahoo Stores e-commerce platform and doing its own fulfillment.

The company is under the direction of CEO Ken Kikkawa now that former partner Seth Greenberg has left and gone to work for Intuit Inc.

In 2005 in time for the holiday shopping season, eHobbies.com, No. 352 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, signed an agreement with Amazon Services to fulfill orders and operate its e-commerce program.

But after outsourcing its e-commerce program for about a year to Amazon, eHobbies.com returned to operating its own platform on Yahoo Stores. “We’ve been back on Yahoo Stores for about a year now and once more doing our own fulfillment,” says Kikkawa. “It’s been a good transition.”

EHobbies.com says it was happy with Amazon, but went back to a Yahoo Stores platform for a greater degree of control and flexibility. “We were quick to get up and running and have more flexibility,” Kikkawa says. “We can introduce new initiatives such as our new PayPal program quicker and Yahoo Stores is pretty robust. I don’t think we are missing any major features and functions.”

Having more flexibility is important in the online hobbies space where eHobbies.com is seeing more competition from mainstream retailers. “This space is a lot more competitive since we launched in 1999,” Kikkawa says. “There are a lot more toy retailers now.”

When the web site launched, big sellers were radio-controlled planes and helicopters. Radio-operated models still sell, but eHobbies.com is now diversifying into other hobby categories such as arts and crafts and more toys and games. The online retailer’s customers are diverse. “The main buyers of the model trains are baby boomers who may have purchased their first train set as a kid and got hooked,” Kikkawa says. “Our customers for radio-controlled items are much younger. They tend to be late teenagers or men in their early 20s with some extra cash to spend from their first full-time job.”

To keep up with its more diverse clientele, eHobbies.com is planning several major upgrades in 2008, including the addition of more rich media tools and customer reviews. Another priority is working on search engine optimization. “When we took over the company, I was concentrating on merchandising and Seth concentrated on marketing and we then met and made joint decisions,” Kikkawa says. “Now I am learning about different new areas and it’s been a challenge and lots of fun.”

Though eHobbies.com isn’t breaking out sales, the retailer is having a good year. “We will be up by about 15% or 20% for the year,” he says.

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