The growing number of influential Weibo commentators are increasingly opening their own online shops or promoting products.
It launched this week tools for e-mail marketing and sales analytics.
Goodsie, a startup company that enables retailers to build branded online storefronts on its hosted e-commerce platform for $15 a month, added to its technology offerings this week with integrated e-mail marketing and web analytics for tracking sales performance.
These improvements, plus technology that supports optimized mobile sites and sales on Facebook, are putting Goodsie on course to reach $10 million in gross merchandise sales this year, says CEO Jonathan Marcus, a former executive at online retail company IAC Interactive Corp., which he left in 2008 to start Goodsie parent HiiDef. IAC, the parent company of retailer Shoebuy.com, No. 87 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, spun off retailers HSN and Cornerstone Brands in 2008; the two became HSN Inc, which is now No. 26 in the Top 500 Guide.
Retailers that deploy the new Goodsie features pay a total monthly fee of $40, Marcus says. Whether retailers opt for the basic e-commerce technology package or the new expanded one, each comes with a secure online shopping cart, support for an unlimited number of SKUs as well as what Marcus describes as scalable Internet bandwidth and scalable product data storage.
Sellers on the Goodsie platform can also sell through an online store on Facebook by simply clicking the Facebook option on the Goodsie platform, Marcus says. “With one click, you can start selling on Facebook,” he says. While some large retailers have been moving away from selling on Facebook, he adds, many of the relatively tiny Goodsie retailers are experiencing strong sales on the social network—a trend he figures is related to the relative ease of managing comparatively small inventories through a social media site.
Goodsie has about 1,250 active online sellers using its technology; together, they did about $1.4 million in gross merchandise sales last year during Goodsie’s first six months of operation, Marcus says. But he expects gross merchandise sales to rocket past those figures in 2012. “We’re on pace to hit $10 million this year,” he says.
Helping to drive that increase, he says, will be the new integrated e-mail marketing program, which is designed to let sellers send targeted e-mail marketing messages to customers based on order history and location. The program also provides a drag-and-drop interface for designing content in e-mail campaigns, and it uses Campaign Monitor e-mail marketing software for delivering e-mail.
The new sales analytics feature provides such information as order volume, average order value and revenue by product category.
And just how does Goodsie manage to support all this? The company launched in May 2011 with $4.5 million in funding from several investors, including John Foley, president of e-commerce at Barnes & Noble Inc.; David Tisch of venture capital firmTechStars; and Jake Lodwick, the founder of the Vimeo video-sharing web site. Marcus had worked at Vimeo during its early days as vice president and general manager.
To support its technology platform, Goodsie subscribes to “cloud” or Internet-based services from Amazon.com Inc., including Amazon’s EC2 on-demand web servers and S3 database services. Using such infrastructure, Marcus says, enables Goodsie to keep its monthly fees low while providing its clients virtually unlimited access to web site infrastructure. Although Marcus doesn’t say if Goodsie and HiiDef are profitable, he notes that Goodsie’s revenue is about 5% to 6% of gross merchandise sales. That would amount to as much as $84,000 in revenue last year and up to $600,000 this year if his 2012 gross sales projection proves accurate.
On Goodsie’s platform, most client retailers have annual sales ranging from $5,000 to “approaching $1 million,” Marcus says. Retailers using Goodsie include apparel retailer ClosetRich.com, and store.TheBoomCase.com, which sells music-playing devices that operate like old “boom box” stereos and radios, can be carried like a suitcase, and can plug into iPhones or other devices that work with headphones.
Elizabeth Kott, founder of ClosetRich.com, says she has yet to use the new e-mail and sales analytics features, but that she expects they will add a lot of value to her business while saving her time by not having to look elsewhere for such support. “Regarding sales transaction analytics, my interns and I handled this manually, so it is huge on our end that Goodsie had the foresight to remedy the mundane challenge of such a task,” Kott says.
Another client is Church of Merch, a company that uses Goodsie’s technology in designing and building e-commerce sites for visual artists and musicians, such as 12th Planet and Flinch. Jeremy Mora, founder and owner of Church of Merch, says Goodsie’s technology helps him work with clients. “Each of their updates and releases definitely add value to the platform as well as to companies like ours that use Goodsie as a core part of our e-commerce operations,” he says.
“The mobile- optimized aspect of Goodsie is something we are very excited about,” he adds.
HiiDef also includes Flavors.me, which Marcus founded as an online technology platform for developing social media web sites.