Cover Story: Taking the Royal Road to Success
When they lived in New York, both Pincus and Feldman enjoyed attending private sample sales — events popular in New York's fashion industry that enable in-the-know consumers to get near-perfect merchandise at a fraction of the cost. Retailers use the sales as a way to discard excess merchandise and draw in new clients. But when they both moved to the West Coast, these sales all but disappeared. So they came up with the idea to create a shopping destination that offered the great deals of sample sales in the decor and design sector, with top quality, curated goods that could be accessed from the convenience of one's home or office. Thus One Kings Lane was born.
"We saw what was happening in the e-commerce space with the private flash-sale sites and got inspired to start an entrepreneurial endeavor that combined that concept with our passion for home decor and design," Pincus says.
Merchandise is currently curated to target One Kings Lane's primary audience — women. Merchandise offered by One Kings Lane during a recent flash sale included sea salt with rosemary and fennel from Coastal Goods, a purveyor of spices and other artisanal foods ($19 vs. a $30 retail price); a set of four tortoise napkin rings from Deborah Rhodes' design studio ($29 vs. $80); and french wire shelves from Coco Company, a retailer that carries an evolving collection of baskets ($89 vs. $250). Most of One Kings Lane's merchandise is shipped directly from the product manufacturers, but some is delivered via One Kings Lane's warehouse.
Expanding its Brand
After raising an undisclosed amount of funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, First Round Capital and angel investor Reid Hoffman in December 2009, One Kings Lane expanded its sales offering with new site features, including the following:
Gifts We Love: A shop containing a selection of gifts at low prices, from classic cashmere throws and silver picture frames to coffee table books and more. In a departure from its flash-sale roots, the items in this shop are available every day (and are still on sale).
Holiday Decor Shop: This shop focuses specifically on holiday items accessible only during the holiday shopping season.
Tastemaker Tag Sales: These special sales, which take place for three hours every Tuesday and Saturday evening, allow renowned interior designers to create curated sales of items that reflect their style. These sales are intended to give users fresh content and design inspiration from professionals, as well as give designers the chance to draw attention to their brands and styles.
The Pantry: One Kings Lane expanded its merchandise selection last fall to include "The Pantry," a collection of high-end food items.
Mobile App: One Kings Lane launched a mobile app for iPhone and iPod Touch users in the summer of last year. Available to download for free at the iTunes App Store, One Kings Lane's app enables members to browse and purchase items, get real-time sales alerts, and be able to check upcoming sales. The app also offers zoom-in, full-screen image and one-touch navigation features, and allows members to share their favorite items with friends via Facebook, Twitter or email. About 5 percent of One Kings Lane's members currently use the brand's app, Pincus says.
Last year also saw One Kings Lane hire a new CEO, Doug Mack, a seasoned e-commerce executive who co-founded Scene7, a rich media platform provider for the e-commerce industry that was eventually sold to Adobe.
Melissa Campanelli is Editor-in-Chief of Total Retail. She is an industry veteran, having covered all aspects of retail, tech, digital, e-commerce, and marketing over the past 20 years. Melissa is also the co-founder of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle.