Scroll through Facebook, watch cable TV commercials or listen to nearly any podcast these days, and you’ll notice a growing e-commerce trend become abundantly clear: Web-only brands—or companies that sell their own manufactured, branded products online—are everywhere, advertising their products to consumers via multiple channels.
An exclusive report from Internet Retailer—The Rise of the Web-Only Brand—reveals that this new crop of e-retailers, often referred to as “digitally native, vertically integrated brands,” are growing online sales nearly three times faster than the broader U.S. e-commerce market through a series of innovative strategies that differentiate them from Amazon and other online retailers.
Take Kuiu, for example. The hunting apparel brand was founded as a way to get around traditional retail and the high price that comes with it so that hunters could get higher quality gear at a more affordable price. And because it is selling highly technical gear to a dedicated fan base, Kuiu operates in a niche that’s largely free from competition from larger retailers like Amazon.
Or look at Revelry, which sells custom-fitted bridesmaids dresses at prices rivaling designer gowns. Offering more options gives this smaller retailer an edge over big names that don’t yet compete for the smaller number of buyers willing to pay a little more for customized products.
And then there are the big names found in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500, like razor subscription service Dollar Shave Club (No. 179), men’s apparel brand Bonobos (No. 232) and mattress maker Casper (No. 182), that are drawing attention from investors and getting big buyouts from traditional manufacturers and retailers. Dollar Shave Club was sold for more than a billion dollars to packaged goods giant Unilever. Bonobos was acquired by Walmart (No. 3), likely as a way to help the physical retail giant beef up its online offerings. Mattress retailer Casper has raised more than $250 million from both traditional retailer Target (No. 20) and venture capitalists alike.
The kinds of online retailers using this online, direct-to-consumer model vary greatly, from selling instruments to offering subscriptions for contact lenses. But mattress, meal kit and apparel companies are driving the most revenue, together accounting for more than half the sales of these types of companies as analyzed by Internet Retailer.
The 35-page report ranks 75 web-only brands based on their 2017 online sales. It also looks at the many reasons these companies have gained favor among consumers and investors alike, including an examination of their Silicon Valley roots and Amazon-proof business models. Also included in the report are:
- Multiple charts showing the market share breakdown of web-only brands versus the larger U.S. e-commerce market
- Interviews and profiles of more than a dozen companies, and in-depth analysis of their various growth strategies
- A breakdown of the biggest challenges these companies face as they grow
- A look into the funding of web-only brands, and why investors see them as an attractive proposition.
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