Each year the editors and researchers at Internet Retailer generate the Hot 100 list of e-retailers we are convinced should be viewed by the industry as e-commerce influencers. These merchants do the things they do differently or do them better than their competitors. In this issue, we welcome the class of 2015 Hot 100 honorees.
A merchant’s size isn’t a determining factor. You’ll see confirmation of that in this year’s Hot 100. Some retailers are barely a year old. But they are off to a strong start, and are creatively building on the strengths inherent to web commerce. For example, Darby Smart, an e-retailer of do-it-yourself craft kits that launched in 2013, recruits designers through the web to come up with craft ideas and then lets its online customers vote on which kits it should produce. It’s a novel idea and a concept really only possible on the web. Investors see the site’s potential, too; Darby Smart has raised more than $7 million in funding so far.
We’re often asked how we select the merchants featured in the Hot 100. Here’s how the process works. Internet Retailer’s 16 editors and researchers draw on their experience of viewing and reporting on thousands of sites a year and each nominates about 20 sites. We also reach out to industry experts for their recommendations, and consider nominations submitted by retailers themselves and their technology providers. The editors and researchers break into teams and get to work, pitching their nominations and showing off features and functions they deem noteworthy. (A big thank you goes out to Sylvia De Oliveira, Katie Evans and Zak Stambor for leading the teams and for magnanimously settling disputes.) Sites are voted up or down until a final list takes shape. The selection process starts in August and concludes in October.
There is an immense amount of innovation going on in e-commerce, and the e-retailers on the Hot 100 represent many of the best of the new ideas that emerged in the past year. We encourage you to review the profiles that follow, and then visit the sites to explore them yourself.
If you have e-retail sites you’d like to see in the Hot 100 next year, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me why you think they are outstanding. In the meantime, we hope you find the sites profiled here useful in developing your own e-retail businesses.