Cover Story: Cross-Channel Retailers to Watch
While our ranking of the fastest-growing cross-channel retailers features some of the biggest players in the industry, Retail Online Integration is well aware that there are thousands of other private retailers out there making their own strides. As a result, our staff selected five exceptional private retailers to highlight. They include the following:
Better World Books
Headquarters: Mishawaka, Ind.
Number of employees: 400
2009 revenue: $31 million
2010 revenue: $45 million
Projected 2011 revenue: $57 million
Better World Books, the "online bookstore with a soul," collects and sells books online to fund literacy initiatives worldwide. Even with more than 8 million new and used titles in stock, Better World Books can't really be compared to Amazon.com and other leading online/offline booksellers, according to its President and CEO David Murphy.
"We're a new kind of company — a social enterpise that builds positive social and environmental impact into its daily operations," says Murphy. "We sell used books that might otherwise have gone to a landfill, and use each sale to raise funding for literacy programs. The socially conscious nature of our business resonates strongly with a growing number of consumers."
Another distinguishing factor for Better World Books is that it's very good at selling books across many marketplaces "We list our books on 25 different marketplaces, including our own website," says Murphy. "By giving maximum exposure to our inventory across these channels, and by employing fairly sophisticated pricing algorithms, we're able to find a global market for our books and maximize the value of each book."
In terms of its marketing approach, Murphy says that since Better World Books has a story that people want to hear, the company has invested resources in community building, referral programs and social media. Better World Books also uses performance media channels such as search engine marketing, search engine optimization and affiliate marketing. The retailer is also continuously working at improving how it manages inventory across marketplaces, Murphy adds.
Tip: Try crossing online channels. For many businesses, like Better World Books, syndicating your inventory across third-party markets can pay solid dividends, Murphy says. — Melissa Campanelli