What does Everything Kitchens do?
We sell all kinds of different kitchen products – cookware, cutlery, flatware, small appliances, glassware, barware – just about anything you would use to furnish your kitchen. … We sell all of those online and also through our store, and we also offer some commercial kitchen equipment as well. We don’t (sell) cabinets, large appliances or things like that. We (carry) more than 85 different brands. … I started initially just building (EverythingKitchens.com
) in my free time. I went live with it when I was 20, in 2002. There are 19 employees, including me. Do you still handle the nuts and bolts of operating your Web site?
No. We do use an external e-commerce solution, but all of our Web maintenance is done in house, and our Web design. We have an (information technology) team that does all that. I initially did all of it, but I do little with it now. I deal with a lot of management issues and creating a vision for the company. Then, I have to work on how to make those things materialize. I wear a lot of different hats during the week. Why did you start your company as an online-only business?
The primary motivation was that I didn’t have a lot of money to start the business. … I started the whole company with about $500. I saw the Internet as a way to let someone who was, then, quite poor, start a business, because (of) less overhead. I started it from home initially and did drop-shipping only, so I didn’t have the inventory expense. … We (had) accounts set up with manufacturers, and for a fee, we could get them to ship directly to the customer. Then within a couple of years, I moved into a building, and we now have about 13,000 square feet of warehouse space. About 70 percent of our orders ship out of our warehouse, and about 30 percent of our orders ship directly from manufacturers.What’s your biggest challenge in terms of e-commerce?
Price wars. People usually buy from the lowest-price site, so we have a constant battle with trying to be competitive. It can be difficult with a lot of manufacturers that are adopting minimum advertised pricing. The manufacturers will sometimes have a minimum price and you cannot advertise below that specific amount. So we can’t put it on our Web site for lower than that amount, or they’ll cut off our account. … They seem to enforce it unequally depending on (the size of) the retailer. We find that some of the large retailers can (go lower), and what ends up happening is they get all the sales. We have a price-matching policy and are highly competitive, but it takes some effort and creativity to stay that way.Many bricks-and-mortar stores are shifting to online business, but you did the opposite, adding a physical store to your online business. Why?
We really hadn’t gone into the Springfield market at all, and we were just trying to reach out to the Springfield area. … It also helps us with inventory balancing. Items that don’t move well online sometimes do move well in-store, so it helps us to have more than one way to sell the same inventory. (And) a lot of manufacturers like to see online companies have retail stores as well. How is the retail store changing your company?
Missouri sales have gone up considerably. Outside of just the store, our online Missouri sales have gone up since we opened the retail store. ... Missouri sales are less than 10 percent of business, even including the retail store. Before, it was less than 5 percent. … We’re working on carrying a lot more gadgets and items $50 and under – mixing bowls and can openers and stuff we didn’t have a lot of before opening the retail store. So the retail store has really helped us broaden what we carry. Are you concerned about the possibility that Springfield’s U. S. Postal Service mail processing center will close?
We use UPS for heavy packages, but packages that are one or two pounds we ship through (the post office). I don’t think (closure) would affect us very much right now in our decisions, because we don’t do a lot of USPS shipping. It’s probably 5 percent of our shipments or less. Plus, it’s already pretty quick, so if you add a day onto it, it’s probably still not going to be slower than any other option.