The growing number of influential Weibo commentators are increasingly opening their own online shops or promoting products.
The flash-sale retailer operates five e-commerce sites.
Flash-sale endurance, outdoor and action sports gear seller LeftLane Sports has raised $4.25 million in a second funding round, says co-founder and chief strategy officer Erik Fialho.
LeftLane has 4.5 million members across its five flash-sale e-commerce sites, which account for most of its revenue. The company also offers exclusive limited-time sales to members of the Active Network and Competitor, which are online media and sporting event registration sites for consumers, Fialho says.
“We have tons of repeat shoppers—some have shopped with us more than 120 times in the last year,” he says. The retailer buys almost all its inventory in advance of offering a flash sale so that it can ship within 24 hours of a customer making a purchase, he says.
The company debuted in 2009, when flash-sale sites were still a new trend, he says, with LeftLaneSports.com. He and his co-founders—including his father Helio Fialho—subsequently bought several competitors: SeshDay.com, which is focused on action sports like skate boarding and motocross; PlanetGear.com, a women’s-only outdoor flash-sales site; and TightLinz.com, an online fishing community. Besides the original site, LeftLaneSports.com, it also operates the flash-sale site of the Active Network, GearUp.active.com.
Aided by the acquisition of PlanetGear in particular, LeftLane aims to fill what Fialho says is a shortage of athletic apparel sites for women, he says. When it bought PlanetGear in 2012, it also added a women’s section called Just4Her to LeftLane.com, he says. Since then, site traffic has shifted from about 70% male and 30% women to a near 50-50 ratio, he says.
The retailer manages inventory, marketing and merchandising across all its sites with an e-commerce platform from Auspient Inc., a company Helio Fialho founded nearly 12 years ago.
With Auspient, the retailer can compare sales of the same products between sites—they all source items from the same inventory pool—to optimize pricing, he says. For example, LeftLane might be selling the same surf board on LeftLaneSports.com and SeshDay.com, discover the shoppers on SeshDay are not willing to pay as much and lower the price on SeshDay only, he says. Alternatively, he could allocate more of the surf boards to where they’re selling faster, on LeftLane.
The retailer also offers some non-flash-sale items every day, such as running shoes and bike helmets, he says. It still sources those products together with its flash-sale merchandise though, so, while a shopper can buy a bike helmet at any time from LeftLane, the brand or style might change week to week. LeftLane runs about 15 flash sales each day, Fialho says.