NEW YORK — How is it that SmartBargains.com has just secured $9 million in fresh funds, when so many e-tailers are struggling simply to survive?
Perhaps it has more than a little to do with the online off-pricer’s robust performance projections for the full year, in which it expects its volume to run up more than fourfold, surpassing $50 million, and its bottom line to be in the black for the fourth quarter. Further, the net profit trend is one that Carl S. Rosendorf, chief executive of the 22-month-old Web site, anticipates will continue throughout 2003.
Heavy customer traffic, amounting to about 4.5 million unique visitors a month, and a browsing-to-buying conversion rate that has soared 25 percent since June 20, when the e-tailer launched a redesign, are driving that growth — and caught the eye of the venture capitalists at Seattle-based Maveron. By comparison, Walmart.com topped Nielsen/Net Ratings’ July traffic report on apparel e-tailers, with roughly 5.2 million visitors, followed by SmartBargains; Target.com, with 4.3 million; and Sears.com, with 3.9 million.
"They approached us in late June, for the second time, and we closed the deal [led by Maveron] on July 26," Rosendorf said of the funding SmartBargains is set to announce today. "Maveron understands e-commerce," he added of the financiers whose founders include Starbucks founder Howard Schultz. "Their investments include eBay and drugstore.com." Maveron, which has more than $400 million under its management, was joined in the round by initial investors Highland Capital Partners, Gordon Bros. and AOL Time Warner Ventures. The deal has raised SmartBargains’ total equity financing to $47 million.
SmartBargains’ new Web site has a cleaner, stripped-down design, making it easier to shop, one of the redesign’s chief aims. The home page hawks fewer items — seven on Friday — illustrated by bigger photographs, while a handful of additional goods are listed, straightforwardly, in a Spotlight Deals! section in the page’s upper-right quadrant. The off-pricer’s new features include a simplified shopping cart and four fashion boutiques on the launch pad, which are changed each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, along with the other goods there. On Friday, the boutiques were Prada, DKNY For Him & Her, Fendi and Harvé Bernard, which, Rosendorf said, is currently one of SmartBargains’ best-selling apparel brands.Apparel is projected to produce approximately 25 percent, or $12.5 million, of Smart Bargain’s full-year sales, up from 20 percent of the e-tailer’s 2001 volume, which Rosendorf declined to disclose.
In a move to stoke its gains, SmartBargains has struck agreements, which, beginning Aug. 1, have enhanced prior marketing pacts with portal giants America Online and MSN. Now, Web-enabled links in AOL’s shopping area allow SmartBargains to provide users there with upsell and cross-sell links with its own e-commerce site. In addition, the off-pricer has secured a fixed placement on MSN’s home page, in the Today’s Sales and Deals section. An arrangement with Yahoo, bringing SmartBargains a link on that portal’s launch pad, is ongoing.
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye