Back in June, 2010, I spoke with Omar Sayyed the President and COO of Ties.com. Continuing in the company’s tradition of developing and providing high-value clothing accessories, they have just launched their latest ecommerce site at Scarves.com, a premium, single key word domain. Omar, once again provides some insight on the new site, domain, and the business.
Sayyed has offered to give-a-way two scarves from Scarves.com to the Sully’s Blog community. All newsletter subscribers are eligible. I’ll be randomly selecting two people from the list on Saturday, January 15 as the winners. If you haven’t yet signed up, there is still a little time.
Mike: Tell me about the strategic decision to expand Ties.com, WildTies.com and NeckTies.com to Scarves.com?
Omar: Well, as you mentioned, as an ecommerce company, we pride ourselves on brining high value, niche-focused ecommerce sites to the public and Scarves.com was a natural and organic measure to keep in-line with our mission. Considering that scarves are yet another fun way to accessorize your neck and your outfit, we felt very comfortable making this transition.
Also, we took a look at the market and saw an overwhelming need to provide a website and service where (we feel) others have fallen short. As always, the strategy was to leverage our knowledge of the ecommerce platforms, marketing, acquisitions, and purchasing power to expand into new markets.
Mike: Did you have a project plan or time line in place to launch this new site? What challenges did you face along the way?
Omar: So, this question touches the heart of our launch. We launched Scarves.com in a little over six weeks. That’s right, from inception, to business plan, to asset development, to design, to final launch it took our Business Development, Creative and Development teams six weeks to launch.
Our biggest challenge going into such a tight deadline (aside from the timeline itself) was product acquisition. The purchasing department had to completely refocus all of their resources, energies, and budget to complete this task. No matter how beautiful your site, if there are no products, you can’t be selling anything.
Mike: Scarves.com is a gem of a domain name. Can you share the process you went through to acquire the name and what you paid for it?
Omar: Thank you, we like this domain very much and have big plans for it. We don’t release actual numbers for our domain acquisitions but I can share with you the process. We have been keeping an eye out for this domain for a while. The actual process of purchasing the domain was relatively simple. After we had crunched our final numbers, we knew what we could and could not afford. As an entrepreneur, one of the lessons you have to keep in mind when new business opportunities come around is “is this right for us, right now?” If you can say “yes” to this two part question, then you’d better figure out what you are willing to pay for this “yes”.
Mike: What lessons did you learn from developing and launching your other sites such as Ties.com that you were able to apply to the new site, Scarves.com?
Omar: Frankly with the launch of Ties.com we did face a few challenges. Some of these challenges were unique to the industry while others were the cause of naiveté. We obviously did not want to repeat mistakes such as taking too long to launch or spending too much time on “perfecting” the design and layout of the website. These mistakes proved to be costly, so this time around we had a very meticulous timeline.
Mike: Can you share your early traffic volume numbers?
Omar: This is the early stages of our launch phase. While I can’t share exact number, I can tell you that our initial traffic and customer response was overwhelmingly positive. It certainly met and surpassed our expectations. Our next challenge from here is to increase this traffic.
Mike: I’m curious if you would entertain the idea of partnering with a domain owner of a premium, single keyword clothing related domain if the opportunity presented itself?
Omar: My natural inclination, as a matter of course is to say “yes”. That said, we are bootstrapped company who have realized genuine and sustainable growth through progressive business development and acquisitions through the years without seeking outside funding or bringing on partners. We are very sensitive about the dilution of the company and its respective assets. I completely believe that we have all the product offerings, resources and talent to make it to the next stage without much outside influence or participation. Partnerships bring opportunities and with it unique challenges. If such an occasion presents itself you can bet we would be asking ourselves “Is this right for me, right now?”
Mike: Do you have plans for further expansion into other ecommerce sites either in the fashion realm or beyond?
Omar: Hahaha, very good question Mike!! We had a company meeting this morning in which we were discussing future developments. While I can’t discuss specifics, I can promise you that 2011 is going to be an exciting time for us. We do have plans to expand our little empire and continue to push the envelope vis-à-vis end-user experience.
Mike: Premium domain prices are a typical roadblock for most. As a man that has had a great deal of success with keyword domain names, do you have any creative advice on how small businesses or individuals can find ways to acquire these premium and expensive domains for use in business?
Omar: I think this is a two part question. 1) Can someone without a “premium domain” really be a viable force in the ecommerce space and 2) how can one acquire these premium domains? To answer the first part, absolutely, you can enter (virtually) most industries. I say most because let’s be honest you are probably not going to develop your own search engine or put up a fight against Amazon as a startup. Your success is dependent how well you utilize digital marketing, social media and PR tools to get you there. One of the main advantages of an online business is the intrinsic cost benefits. There are little to no barriers of entry, and set up costs are relatively “low-er”.
How, can one acquire a premium domain is a very curious question. There are literally hundreds of thousands of companies that specialize in domain reselling. These are sales companies that specialize in the domain acquisition field – for a nominal fee of course. Contacting them, would be one way of achieving this goal. Or you can use free sites like domaintools.com to find who the owners/ operators are for a respective website. Try reaching out to them via phone or email to see their responses.
Great interview and I love the domain and site. The following problem/lesson learned really hit home – “taking too long to launch”. For domainers, well at least for me, I try to get everything just right rather than just get it out there and have a work in progress. Nobody really cares if the site is perfect and Google certainly doesn’t so launch and refine!
@Clay…. I hear ya. I’ve been sitting on a couple of projects that I should have just gotten up right away.
Very nice interview. I like the scarves.com setup a lot.
I have a clothing domain which is currently set up as a thin affiliate store, but I want to develop it into a full ecommerce site. I’m having a hard time locating suppliers that carry quality products, though. I find lots of the product on Alibaba.com, but the quality seems to be lacking. I would be interested to hear how the scarves.com owners went about establishing relationships with suppliers.
@Josh, I like layout of the site as well. I haven’t really hear of a great source for dropshippers in general, so if you come across one, let me know 🙂
I have an old account with worldwidebrands.com. They list a lot of dropshippers, but finding quality products is a problem.
I may be wrong, but I think there is a huge opportunity available right now for someone with the resources and gumption to build a dropship superstore. Maybe something like Amazon, but instead of selling directly to the public, they would act as a distributor for ecommerce sites. I wouldn’t think the margins would even have to be that high. It would take a lot of resources to build, but it seems like it could be profitable for the builder. I like the direction epik is taking with their ecommerce platform, but I can’t justify paying their cost at the current level of service.
For now, I use affiliate programs, but it’s hard to get Google’s love that way. If you are ever in need of an affiliate program, though, for an apparel or accessory domain, Zappos is great. Their program is separate from Amazon, and I hope it stays that way 🙂 Amazon’s program can be good too but mainly for high-priced items.