Last year’s website redesign produces mixed results.
The online marketplace also redesigns its site and gets more Rakuten capital.
More capital, a redesign and a new name: The online marketplace formerly known as Daily Grommet is having an eventful week.
The merchant—which launched in 2008 and made last year’s Internet Retailer Hot 100 list because of way it uses video and other methods to tell the stories behind its food, home décor and other products—has dropped ‘daily’ from its brand. Now the e-retailer goes by The Grommet.
The change reflects that consumers have become used to daily "product stories" and sales, says co-founder and CEO Jules Pieri. That's "superfluous now," she says. "But we remain committed to the Grommet name because that humble little piece of hardware which makes things better is a great description of our products, too."
The Grommet is No. 425 in the new Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. 66% of its shoppers are women, according to the research guide, and the e-commerce site attracts 550,000 unique monthly visitors.
TheGrommet.com now features what the retailer calls larger and “more attractive” product displays, customer reviews and “personal value icons for customers to align their beliefs with their purchases.” Those icons, for instance, can tell a shopper whether a product comes from the United States, was handcrafted, used natural materials or was manufactured by a company that donates to charities.
Additionally, Tokyo-based Rakuten Inc. has made the second tranche of its investment in The Grommet and taken a majority stake in the company. The Grommet did not detail the amount of the investment. "We had $6 million in angel capital since we launched in 2008," Pieri says. "That felt like a long series of small snacks stretched over more than four years. The Rakuten investment is more like a fully stocked pantry."
The recent capital will go toward increasing awareness among consumers of The Grommet, hiring staff—the e-retailer employs 43 workers, up from about 15 last year—and other areas, Pieri says.
Rakuten last year led a Series B funding round in the online marketplace; that amount also was unspecified. About a year ago, the Japan-based e-commerce operator led a $100 million funding round in the Pinterest social network.
“The Grommet has successfully used Pinterest to give its vibrant community a place to suggest new product ideas, and to successfully drive traffic on Grommet product partner web sites and grow Pinterest followers,” the online marketplace says. According to the Top 500 Guide, The Grommet has nearly 12,600 Pinterest followers, compared with about 14,6000 on Twitter and 30,900 Likes on Facebook.
The online marketplace plans to use its Rakuten connection for international advantages. "Rakuten is helping us source products from Japan to start, and we will have a huge advantage in launching products across countries," Pieri says.
The Grommet, while not revealing its revenue, says it expects to increase sales by 400% this year. The Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide estimates the e-retailer’s 2012 sales as $27 million, up 17.4% from the previous year.