The January numbers for "unique visitors" came out about a week ago on topnine.com and they show joann.com for the first time moving into top spot (and by an impressive margin). Here are the numbers (in 000's of unique visitors):
joann.com = J
michaels.com = M
craftopia.com = C
everyone else: irrelevant
January - J:536 - C:360 - M:338
December - C:556 - J:531 - M:386
November - C:438 - J:426 - M:388
October - C:281 - M:225 - J:134
September - C:284 - M:211 - J:123
Simply getting lots of unique visitors does not by itself guarantee success but these numbers should still by seen as quite encouraging. As is typical these days, the market is giving JAS no credit at all for this (or any other) positive indication.
Perhaps some people are concerned about the January sales numbers--which come out on Thursday morning (February 8). I have no idea if they'll be strong or weak, though the SSS comparisons should be easier for January (up only 1.6% a year earlier) than they were for December (up 6.6% the previous year).
I was wondering for a bit how I could have missed that news item referred to in post 353. It would appear that somehow it got entered into the system under the symbol JAS rather than JASA. Oh, bad, bad, Yahoo.
Thanks for a most informative post, DB. Any further pertinent recollections regarding this meeting to which you referred would be much appreciated.
JAS may not yet be the best company, but they certainly do have the best Yahoo message board.
Why so paranoid, Mr. Moribund? All my information comes from the public domain. Here is a link to the story about Joann.com layoffs: http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/010109/ca_ideafor.html
Also, I attended the CEO Roundtable meeting at the HIA show several weeks ago. The head of Joann.com announced that the Joann brick and mortar merchants had taken over buying for the dot com side. I could be remembering this incorrectly, but I believe he said there were only four employees remaining from the original Ideaforest group.
As for my thoughts on HSN's strategic plans for Craftopia, an executive from HSN was at the same roundtable. He didn't have much to say, but what he did present was very interesting. He said Craftopia would focus on producing bi-weekly craft shows for the HSN network. That tells me they see their primary competition as QVC, who has been extremely successful selling crafts on television. I've seen QVC sell literally thousands of units in a four minute segment. According to the guy from Joann.com, his website is converting 2% of visitors into sales. If you do the math for January (536k visitors x .02) Joann.com averaged a paltry 346 orders per day! Assuming the 2% conversion rate is typical of the industry, its easy to see why HSN is pushing Craftopia into TV.
One last note of interest -- the executives from Michaels.com and Joann.com went out of their way to describe the path to profitibility as "a marathon, not a sprint." Clearly their profitibility expectations have been tempered over the last eight months. The guy from HSN said, "Some dot com models work, others don't. HSN.com was profitible after three months, and had their first million dollar day in November." That got the room's attention.
Sorry for going on so long . . .
Still Not A Spy
Just an Interested Supplier
Looking for the Best Horse to Ride
He didn't say Joann.com is laying off workers, he said Ideaforest was. Since Ideaforest is strictly an on-line store they were probably losing money hand-over-fist, like most of the startup dot.coms. It may be that Joann.com has taken over site maintenance and hosting and that allowed Ideaforest to get rid of some people. I checked with WHOIS and they are still listed as two separate domains with different IP addresses but both IPs are being rerouted to the new site.
All we know, if true, is that Ideaforest is laying off 90% of their staff. Is that 9 people out of 10 or 900 out of 1000? JAS will have a decision to make if Ideaforest does go belly-up. Do they buy them out (which could be the reason for the layoffs) or do they let them sink and move on?
I'd be interested in your thoughts as to what HSN does have in mind for craftopia.com. The way it is currently set up I don't see how it could be doing anything other than competing head to head with joann.com and michaels.com.
Not a spy?? DB, that's what all spies say. Of course you're a spy. :)
So what, pray tell, is your source for this claim that joann.com let go of 90% of their people?
Thanks for the welcome, Mr. Moribund. Fact is, I've been lingering for months.
Just between the two of us, I don't believe HSN has targeted Joann.com or Michaels.com as their competition. I'm just guessing here, but I believe they are looking in an entirely different direction.
double_bryan (not a Craftopia spy)
Welcome to Jo-Ann Stores, double_bryan. I have my doubts as to how well Craftopia.com is going to do without any actual stores to back it up, though I'm sure the support of HSN will give it as good a chance as it could reasonably hope for.
Still, I would have thought HSN could have found easier competition than joann.com and michaels.com to go after.
It does now look more than ever like a three website race. All the other online sellers of crafts will either endure in some insignificant niche or as a tiny part of a bigger entity--or just get squashed.
Ultimately, the market will determine what is "appropriate for on-line sales." The point is that JoAnn's has a real web presence, which is an essential for many investors these days. It didn't cost them all that much more money to go ahead and make it an e-commerce site as well. Trust me, I do this for a living. Their start-up costs on the website were way less than it would cost them to put up just one brick and mortar store. So they don't turn a major buck today, so what? You have to start somewhere. I will practically guarantee you that the site will not lose money this year. (Not having access to their books, I have to fudge a little) As wider bandwidth becomes more available to retail consumers the problems of maintaining Virtual Stores becomes easier to address.
Consumer demographics are continuing to fragment. Soon you'll have people that only buy things from their phones or PDAs. Somebody will get their business, too.
As for your argument that "people who buy fabrics and crafts are specificaly *not* the people who want to buy some stuff and get the hell out.", you are partially right. The true "craft" people seem to take their time and have a bit more patience. They are the ones more concerned with the shopping experience that simply consuming craft goods. Usually, they don't have a regular 9-5 job which may contribute to their dispositions.
Unfortunately, they also seem to be a dwindling breed. I think, perhaps, that might depend on where the store is located. My wife works at one that is on a main street of a large city, where there are a few affluent neighborhoods, as well as a private university near by. Many customers, especially early in the morning and at lunchtime, fit the other category. The compelling demographic we need to know on these people, is whether or not they shop on line. (Can you see them yelling at the Submit button, "C'mon, I haven't got all MINUTE!")
The world in general, like the retail world is changing pretty fast. Remember, seven years ago there weren't any website URLs named www.microsoft.com, or www.yahoo.com. And search engines were named Archie, Veronica, and Jughead. Where will we be in another seven years?