Evolving with the Marketplace

E Revolution Ventures

E Revolution Ventures got its start nearly three decades ago as a 500 square foot kiosk at the site of the former New Orleans World’s Fair – and has never had an unprofitable year since. The Delaware based company has grown and evolved over the last 28 years, adding multiple brick and mortar stores and a thriving online retail arm along the way.

Today, E Revolution Ventures sells directly to consumers through its retail stores, five ThinkFast branded websites, and across multiple third-party marketplaces including Amazon, eBay, Sears, NewEgg, Best Buy and Buy.com,

E Revolution Ventures’ sales increased by a whopping 626 percent between 2010 and 2012, earning the company widespread recognition. In 2012, the business was recognized as an INC 5000 company. E Revolution Ventures made the list again the following year, ranking #733 overall, 46th in retail, and third in growth for the state of Delaware. The company was also recently added to Internet Retailer magazine’s list of the top 500 ecommerce businesses, a coveted ranking of the nation’s bestselling online retailers. With $24 million in sales, E Revolution Ventures debuted at number 466, and was ranked the seventh fastest growing ecommerce business in the United States.

Evolving with the marketplace has been key to E Revolution Ventures’ success. “We started as brick and mortar retailers in 1986, and we have been online since 1997, so I think that what we are really good at is understanding the changes in the way that consumers buy product, and understanding the retail marketplace in general,” explains E Revolution Ventures President and CFO Stu Eisenman. “Specifically, we understand what motivates ecommerce sales and motivates the consumer. And, we realize that the buying decisions that motivated the consumer in 1997 or 1986 are very different from what motivates the consumer today. The way consumers source, research, and purchase product has changed rapidly over the last several years.” In response, the team has worked very hard to be flexible. “We definitely believe in being adaptable and nimble,” Mr. Eisenman remarks. This adaptability has led the team to maintain a strong focus on the ecommerce side of the business over the last five years, as consumers increasingly choose to purchase products online.

The team boasts extensive experience across multiple sectors, which helps them understand the evolving retail landscape and react appropriately. “The E [in E Revolution Ventures] stands for everything, because we sell in every product category,” Mr. Eisenman remarks. “Part of what sets us apart from the competition is that we are in so many industries. That knowledge set and that awareness of what is happening in all of these different retail industries gives us an edge over our competition.”

The team relies on rule-based logic to track and analyze millions of products across more than a dozen product categories. Analyzing data on this level would have been impossibly expensive just a few short years ago, but today’s cloud-based architecture has allowed the company to develop sophisticated proprietary software to do the job.

The team’s ability to accurately track and analyze complex data ensures that E Revolution Ventures has the right product at the right time. “We use a lot of data points to determine popularity of an item in the marketplace. It allows us to take some of the risk out of retail.” And, Mr. Eisenman adds, having the product available whenever the customer wants it is key. “There is a misconception about online sales. [People think] that it is all about price,” he explains. “But we have found that it is really about availability. Because we are using data to identify what is popular in the marketplace, we really excel at always having the best availability. We always have the product that the consumer wants.”

An inclusive company culture has also helped E Revolution Ventures succeed. “We’ve always believed in sharing our goals with our entire team,” Mr. Eisenman reports. This means that everyone from the shipping personnel to the customer service representatives to the buyers are on the same page, working together to reach those goals. “If you were to visit our offices today, you’d see big digital screens that show our daily sales goal and how we are tracking towards that goal.”

A strong relationship with manufacturing and vendor partners has also been crucial, and the team puts tremendous effort into keeping these partners happy. “We deliver on a commitment to represent their brands well,” says Mr. Eisenman. “We work daily with [many of them] to make sure that their product is represented really well, not just on our websites, but also on all the third party marketplaces we are on like Amazon and eBay. We do a lot.” E Revolution Ventures’ Brand Exclusivity Department does everything from monitoring online product photos, to compiling product videos and pictures, to gathering hundreds of product reviews on social media. “That vendor / manufacturer / partner relationship is really important to us.”

In return, E Revolution Ventures enjoys top notch deals from its partners. “Scale gives us an edge over the competition,” Mr. Eisenman points out. “Because of the size of the company and the growth that we’ve had, we are able to have the best deals from vendors and have great prices for consumers.”

The team is determined to continue E Revolution Ventures’ award winning growth far into the future. “We are just starting to tap into international markets,” Mr. Eisenman reports. The company has been doing business in Canada for the past 18 months, and has recently begun selling in the UK, France, and Germany. The team also has the groundwork laid to begin selling in China by the end of this year.

Keeping up with the projected growth will be a major focus for the company over the next few years. The team is busy navigating countless rules, regulations, and new tax codes as they take the business abroad. They are also working hard to develop new relationships with key partners in the countries in which they are looking to expand. “Doing the international expansion successfully and profitably, that is probably the largest challenge that we as a company face in 2014,” Mr. Eisenman predicts. “But we are up for it. We have put really good people in play to help us with that.”

For instance, the company has just brought a new Chief Operating Officer on board. COO Brooke Knight Warner brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in digital marketing, digital media, and ecommerce to the expanding business. And, Ms. Warner is just one of many new and talented employees. At the end of 2012 the company boasted around 60 fulltime, year round employees; by the end of 2013 this number had jumped to nearly 100. “We are bringing in really good people, some that have come up through the ranks and some that we have recruited from outside of the company,” Mr. Eisenman shares. “They will help us get to this new level.”

In 2013, E Revolution Ventures’ goal was to double both its sales and its profits. Sales skyrocketed from $24 million to $43 million, falling just short of the target number, while profits doubled fully. “Our goal is to do that again,” Mr. Eisenman says, “to double sales and double profits. We are projecting $80 million for next year.”

The secret will be to maintain a “pragmatic methodology for running the business,” he insists. “A lot of companies can grow, but to grow profitably is actually a talent. One of the things that I am most proud of as the company founder and current CFO is that we have been in business since 1986 and we have never had a year that was unprofitable.”

Furthermore, the company experienced a host of challenges throughout that time span, from natural disasters to the Global Financial Crisis to a dramatically evolving retail marketplace. “We have been through it all. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans we had stores in New Orleans that represented about a third of our income at the time. We adapted to that. And so many traditional brick and mortar retailers have not adapted to online sales. But we have adapted well to that. All those years we have been profitable – every single year.”

For more information about E Revolution Ventures, please visit http://www.erevolutionventures.com/

May 29, 2020, 2:47 AM EDT