The office supplies retailer say it sacrificed some sales to improve online profitability. It also redesigned its business-facing e-commerce site, StaplesAdvantage.com.
LightInTheBox Holding Co. Ltd., a Beijing-based online retailer of apparel, home goods and electronics, says it generated $48 million in sales from consumers in North America last year.
LightInTheBox Holding Co. Ltd., a Beijing-based online retailer of apparel, home goods and electronics, says it generated $48 million in sales from consumers in North America last year. Bearing the tagline "shopping global, one world, one price," the e-commerce site is available in 17 languages. It has many of the bells and whistles consumers expect to find when shopping online, such as customer service via live chat, product ratings and reviews, a Facebook social plug-in, links to its Pinterest page and YouTube channel, along with the promise of fast, inexpensive delivery. It also has low prices, particularly on special occasion dresses—it lists more than 3,000 for sale—and many of the styles can be made to order.
That combination of low prices and bespoke styling is causing trouble for North American e-retailers of dresses for events like proms and weddings. They are losing sales to retailers like LightInTheBox and other Chinese merchants who are able to source products from China's enormous manufacturing base and, via the web, sell them directly to consumers around the world. The tremors being felt in the special occasion dress market are indicative of a groundswell forming that is certain to spill over into other product categories. And for that, e-retailers everywhere must be prepared. You can read much more about the competitive dynamics of this particular market segment and how U.S. merchants are responding starting on page 18.
Moving away from China, on page 30 you'll find details on a market rife with opportunity for e-retailers: Eastern Europe. E-commerce sales in the region are expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 14.7% through at least 2016, and that's helping it generate a wave of attention from homegrown entrepreneurs and international investment from Western retailers. The story includes what merchants interested in the region should know about selling to consumers there. After reading the story, if expanding into the region sounds like something you'd like to explore, I suggest digging into the Internet Retailer 2013 Europe 500, a compendium of research on the largest e-retailers in Europe. It's available at InternetRetailer.com and includes numerous data points and insights that'll help you spot your next great business opportunity. Good luck.
Allison Enright, Editor