January 27, 2010, 12:00 AM

Replacements.com sees 4.7% growth in 2009 online sales

Replacements.com credits a 30% increase in online ad impressions with 2009 web sales of $75 million, a 4.7% increase compared with 2008.

Online tableware retailer Replacements Ltd. credits a 30% increase in online ad impressions with 2009 web sales of $75.0 million, a 4.7% increase from $71.7 million in 2008.

Despite a challenging spring and summer sales environment thanks to the economy, online tableware retailer Replacements.com bounced back in the second half of 2009, says senior vice president of e-commerce Jack Whitley. “We did not change our strategic online marketing plan,” he says. “We stuck with our spending plan and we think that contributed to us having a good holiday season.” Sales for the October-December holiday sales period were up 9% compared to the prior year, he says.

At the heart of a successful 2009 were increased online ad impressions- the number of times web users view the retailer’s ads-and new site search functionality at Replacements, No. 164 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name). For the year, online ad impressions were up by 38% compared with 2008, to 536 million, Whitley says. “We worked hard to increase impressions and did so with only a 2% increase in ad spend. To help accomplish this, we assign discrete sales and cost components to each of the 5.1 million ads that we run online in our core, or primary, campaigns. Activity in terms of views, discrete cost and discrete sales for each ad write back to our internal systems. Our goal is to add money to those ads in the 5.1 million ad pool that are creating positive ROI, and take away money from those ads where the ROI is declining.”

Doing this entails properly arraying the portfolio of 5.1 million ads on a perpetual basis, approximately 24 times per day, every day, Whitley says. Efficient Frontier provides the software and hardware that enables Replacements to manage the task internally.

For the search functionality upgrade, Replacements used an unidentified vendor, and the project included some customization. “It was legitimately a team effort,” Whitley says. “The out-of-the-box version wouldn’t have worked, but if we had done it alone it would have taken a decade. They have done an excellent job of helping us manage the right pricing for 4 million items.” Replacements expects to name the vendor soon, he adds.

Since November, shoppers have been able to search by basic keywords as simple as “baby” or “salt and pepper sets, ” where before they could only search by tableware manufacturer name or style. Shoppers can also search by attributes, such as color, piece or theme, such as “Easter.”

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