After selling more than $100 million online last year, web-only furniture retailer is ready to sell its e-retail technology to other furniture retailers.
Cymax Stores Inc., No. 216 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, has released its new e-commerce platform for furniture retailers. The platform, called Constant Retail, has been undergoing testing for the past six months with what Constant Retail vice president of sales Chris Carroll calls “select partners.” He declined to name the retailers testing the technology.
In October, Cymax raised $25 million in a Series A funding round to help finance the development of the platform. Carroll says Constant Retail has been in the works for more than a year, but he declined to say how much Cymax has spent developing the new product.
Carroll says one of the things that sets the platform apart is that it incorporates the furniture industry expertise that Cymax has accumulated over the years.
“We’ve got 10 years of furniture retail data and all of the marketing and analytics that go along with that,” he says. “A lot of companies, they’re professionals at Google Analytics, marketing, SEO, that kind of stuff. We’ve been doing that specifically for furniture. We know in Washington State whether sectional sofas have been selling. We understand based on a large database what’s been working.”
Cymax is marketing the platform both to furniture retailers and manufacturers that already sell online and to those not yet selling on the web. “A lot of companies have transactional or non-transactional sites,” Carroll says. “To play and compete on a level that a consumer expects today is becoming increasing difficult for companies that don’t specialize across the facets of expertise needed to compete against the top players.”
Constant Retail costs $199 per month for retailers selling up to three brands of furniture on the platform and $699 per month for up to 20 brands. Constant Retail offers marketing services for $2,500 per month aimed at helping retailers become more visible to their target shoppers and help their paid advertising perform better, Carroll says.
“We’re offering the look, feel and function of a top-tier e-commerce site at a fraction of the cost,” he says.
Because Cymax is a high-volume shipper, Carroll says the company is able to pass cost savings along to retailers who use the Constant Retail platform by giving them access to Cymax’s heavily discounted shipping carriers.
Online stores built on the platform employ responsive design, meaning they adapt to the size of the screen a consumer uses to view them.
Carroll says the company has signed on a number of clients to use the technology, though he declines to say how many or name them.
“It’s not just open to retailers, it’s open to manufacturers,” he says. “Manufacturers really want to control their brands and their images. We can create a manufacturer’s website where that site is transactional, yet they can still sell it through their dealer network by having a ‘buy now’ button.”
Carroll says Constant Retail will operate within Cymax, not as a separate division, and that the retailer’s 200-person staff is working on the platform. He and his team have hired several employees to support the rollout of the platform, in departments ranging from merchandising to analytics, though he declined to disclose how many.
To get the word out, Cymax is planning on upping its social media advertising and paid search spend on Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Carroll says by helping other furniture retailers sell online, Cymax isn’t cannibalizing its own retail market share.
“The furniture industry is worth $100 billion a year across the U.S.,” he says. “Only 4% of that is done online, so even though we’re a large e-commerce player, we’re only grabbing a fraction of the market.”
While the platform is being marketed to furniture retailers and manufacturers, Carroll says retailers in other industries could potentially sell through the platform as well, though that’s not his focus now.
“Let’s start with the industry that we’re really familiar with and really embedded in and where we offer the most benefit,” he says. “So much of our data has been driven by furniture. We have a large enough opportunity in furniture.”Favorite