E-Retail Growth Award – 2017 Finalists
Chewy Inc. has grown at a spectacular rate since its founding in 2011. In 2016, the pet food and supplies retailer more than doubled web sales to $901 million from $423 million. The e-retailer sells products from some 550 brands, giving pet owners a massive selection. It aims to become the authority for pet owners with an informative blog and strives to develop relationships with customers, encouraging customer service reps to spend time on the phone getting to know each shopper’s concerns and details about their pets. Chewy deepened its ties to customers by sending 2 million handwritten holiday notes to customers that, CEO Ryan Cohen says, merely wished them and their pets a happy holiday, and included no coupon or pitch to buy.
In its second full year of business, mattress e-retailer Leesa Sleep LLC generated $76 million in online revenue in 2016, up 167% from $28 million in 2015. While seven of the 10 fastest-growing merchants in the Housewares and Home Furnishings category of the Top 1000 are merchants that exclusively sell mattresses, Leesa is one of the fastest-growing. The 11 mattress merchants ranked in the Top 1000 collectively grew online sales 71% last year. Leesa has kept its focus on building its brand through well-crafted and targeted public relations campaigns, as well as celebrity relationships, influencers and television ads, says CEO David Wolfe. The merchant, for example, recently signed a long-term deal with Olympic athletes Michael Phelps and Aly Raisman to serve as “sleep ambassadors” in TV and digital ad campaigns.
Poppin made its name selling tape dispensers, staplers and pens in pastel colors instead of drab black, grey and burgundy. Now it has expanded into office furniture and put its products into 4,500 retail stores, with more growth initiatives in the offing. The furniture line and retail expansion contributed to boosting the company’s sales 73% to about $40 million in 2016 from $23 million the year before. CEO Randy Nicolau projects sales this year will grow another 50-60%. Nearly half of the retailer’s 2016 sales were office furniture, which Poppin only introduced in April 2015. Poppin’s growth makes it an outlier in the office supplies category: Web sales declined by a collective 2% in 2016 for the 43 retailers in this category in the Top 1000.
Cosmetics retailer Ulta Beauty is one of the few retail chains reporting strong growth in sales both online and overall. In 2016, online sales grew 56% to $345 million and net sales grew 24% to $4.86 billion. Online accounted for 7.1% of Ulta’s total fiscal 2016 sales, compared with 5.6% a year earlier. Ulta’s online sales have been growing at a compound annual rate of 38% since 2013, according to Top500Guide.com. Not only are Ulta’s online sales surging, those sales are bringing in higher profit margins, which the company attributes to the ramping up of its fulfillment facilities near Indianapolis and Dallas, enabling the retailer to deliver online orders more quickly and efficiently. “The big part of our supply chain investment is around fulfilling online orders in a way that’s better for our guest in terms of speed and also more efficient in terms of cost,” CEO Mary Dillon recently said in a call with investors.
Award Category Description: A web site that has been ranked in the Internet Retailer Top 1,000* for at least two years and which achieved the highest growth rate in the current year.