An analysis of 72 retailers that have begun selling online in the last three years shows they’re growing web sales rapidly by offering unique products and marketing creatively.

Despite the growing dominance of Amazon.com Inc., there is still room for newcomers to succeed in e-commerce—if they offer consumers something unique.

That might be selling one-of-a-kind home furnishings and fine art, as 1stdibs.com does, or sofas that consumers assemble at home, which is Burrow’s business model. It can also mean making it easy to buy a complex product online, as Rad Power Bikes is doing by working with Velofix, an operator of bike-repair vans that now assembles Rad bikes for consumers for $99.

Those three companies are among the 72 retailers covered in a new Internet Retailer report, “The E-Commerce Startups.” All 72 have begun selling online in a significant way only since 2015—which means they entered e-commerce when Amazon was already casting a long shadow over retail competitors. And yet as a group they have prospered.

Collectively, they more than doubled their web sales in 2017 to $1.375 billion, and those selling since 2015 posted a combined two-year compound annual growth rate of more than 100%.

More than half of them are selling products they develop themselves, which means they don’t have to compete online directly with the likes of Amazon or Walmart Inc. because they can sell their products exclusively if they choose. That’s been the strategy of Burrow and Rad Power Bikes.

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But Eosera, which developed a new earwax removal solution, launched its product initially on Amazon, using the Amazon Essentials program designed for companies introducing new products. In return for not selling the product on any other online marketplace and for paying an additional 5% commission to Amazon, the program provides greater visibility to participating products, both in search results on Amazon and email offers Amazon sends customers.

Months before going live with its own e-commerce site, Eosera introduced its product online via Amazon in April 2017. While participation in Essentials served its purpose of getting out the word, Eosera ended its participation in the program late in 2017.

“We were giving up some of the profit to get exposure,” says co-founder and CEO Elye Stoltz Dickerson. “Once we had enough traction and exposure, we felt we could stop paying the premium.” Eosera’s main product, EarWaxMD, is now available in CVS stores.

Burrow has had success advertising on podcasts, which creates an intimate connection between the host and listener, says vice president of marketing Russell Markus. To leverage that connection, Burrow offers podcast hosts one of its sofas so they can speak about the product knowledgeably. “We’re not looking for paid endorsements,” Markus says. “We genuinely want these people to try out our product and to talk truthfully about it.”

Not all the 72 e-commerce newbies are startups. Some are established brands like Canada Goose, Asics, New Era and Alfred Dunner Inc. that are going direct to consumer via the web to make up for sagging store sales. Others are retailers bringing successful brick-and-mortar concepts to the web, such as Hollar.com, which aims to be the online equivalent of a dollar store, or Just Candy LLC, which personalizes candy and party favors for consumers and companies.

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What they have in common is that they are bringing new products and services to the web, in most cases offering something that Amazon doesn’t—at least, not yet.

What you’ll find in “The E-Commerce Startups” report:

  • 56 pages of analysis and data, covering the growth and strategies of 72 retailers and brands that have begun selling online since 2015.
  • Multiple charts including ones covering sales growth, funding, shopper demographics and top merchandise categories.
  • Profiles of companies, including Canada Goose, Essential, 1stdibs.com, Hibbett Sports, M. Gemi, Just Candy, Rad Power Bikes, Burrow and Purple.
  • Exclusive consumer survey of shoppers’ likelihood to shop at unfamiliar websites, what worries them about purchasing form new e-commerce sites and what website features give them confidence to try a new online retailer.

For more information or to place an order, click here.

 

 

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