Coupes & Condos

New technologies and data that track customer synergies are allowing to grow its business within and beyond retail. Over the past year, Overstock added electronics on the retail side and a host of advertising and fee-based features on the service end.

In electronics, Overstock's full selection encompasses 18,000 SKUs. On the service end, an automobile section of the site links shoppers to dealerships based on model, price, nuances and geographic area. A similar home buying feature joined the auto search in February. A few months ago, several social components went live.

The revenue for non-retail services is small and gross margins are in the single digits. But profits are incremental since there is virtually no overhead. "When we're doing auctions or cars, we don't own anything," says Patrick Byrne, chairman and CEO. "With shopping, you can have $25 million in inventory."
Byrne says Overstock makes sure each section of its site is distinct. With the auction section, Overstock demands that sellers verify authenticity of certain products. "If somebody says they have 200 Christian Dior bags for sale, they must fax us proof of their purchase."

While Byrne wants to continue growing Overstock, he wants to make sure there is a clear point of view. His aim is to be a one stop shop. "Amazon is a Turkish bazaar. You don't know who you are buying from."

This summer, Overstock plans to launch a site in Canada, followed by the U.K. later this year. France and Germany should come next, says Byrne. Launching sites in each country will be done in a three-phase approach.

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