After being the first to launch a flash sale site in the home market—an idea that not everyone thought would work—in 2009, One Kings Lane is now the second most-visited premium home décor site on the web.
With more than 5 million members, $100 million in revenue in 2011 (up 300% from 2010), One Kings Lane is a rocket ship of e-commerce success, and today at the Online Merchandising Workshop, attendees were treated to some insights from two of the leaders of its “e-commerce dream team”, CEO Doug Mack and VP of Marketing Jim Kingsbury.
The genius of One Kings Lane is not just that it fills a void in the marketplace, but it does it with what Kingsbury described as “vibrancy, personality and a unique point of view.” Most products on the site aren’t even known brands; the brand customers keep coming back for (and 75% of sales are from repeat customers) is One Kings Lane itself.
And that’s because One Kings Lane’s approach differs from the slap-the-catalog-up-on-the-web-and-discount-it e-commerce days of the past. One Kings Lane tells you a story. It shows you only what it thinks is best. The scarcity of the flash sale gives you a sense you’re getting something special—but only if you act now. Social site features that depict what other shoppers are looking at on the website give you the sense of not being alone while you shop. And most importantly, but admittedly, the hardest to pull off, is the freshness of it all. There’s something new every day.
The guidelines that have helped One Kings Lane catapult to success are reflective of the e-commerce trends Mack presented. Here’s his take on current trends within the e-commerce space:
1. The fundamentals are the same. Winners will always deliver the big three: superior merchandise, genuine commitment to service, and a super fast experience.
2. “Brands with soul will thrive, knock-offs will wither.” Lots of companies are copying ideas, but customers are savvy and see right through it. The first movers in new commerce will have great leverage.
3. Don’t get greedy—focus wins the next phase. Over-expansion creates market opportunity for disciplined players. His formula: Category killer + thoughtful expansion + profitable unit economics = built to last.
4. Social, local, mobile is key, but it’s not one size fits all. Mack says you need to truly understand your business to evaluate what investments will work with your customers. Social dynamics is something that’s built into a company’s DNA, and mobile will continue to rock the marketplace. “No matter how much any of us are investing in mobile, I don’t think it’s enough,” he said.
5. Winners will learn to harness the power of big data. Big data is game-changing, allowing companies to create more relevant, precise messages that are viewed more as a service than as marketing. It will allow for a more tailored shopping experience that keeps customers coming back. And these customized messages become even more important as mobile grows.