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Jennifer Marks

Flash Site Mertado Expands into Home Textiles

Foam pillowsFoam pillows are among the home textiles Mertado has recently added to its site.
REDWOOD CITY, CALIF. - Mertado, a flash sale site launched in April 2010 with a focus on kitchenwares, is rapidly expanding its product assortment to become a home furnishings resource.
     Built on the Facebook platform by three Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Mertado encourages a high degree of interactivity - demonstration videos by suppliers (products accompanied by a video have a higher sell-through rate by two to three times) and recommendations and product reviews by members (which also drives up conversions).
     "The more comments a product gets, the more demand," said Kathy Aronson, director of merchandising and a former buyer for Gap Body. "It's like you're in a shop and suddenly everybody is gathered around one table."
     There are currently about 150,000 members on the relatively young site, according to president and co-founder Vijay Chittoor. Members are rewarded for introducing others to the site and receive rewards in the form of "Mertado bucks" to spend.
     "If your friend makes a purchase, both of you get $15 in Mertado bucks," he said.
     The target customer is a woman age 30-50. "The profile is similar to the online Facebook gamer," said Aronson. "She's more willing to watch video in the Facebook environment, and she will spend about 30 seconds watching video."
     Vendors who sell on Mertado may be test-driving a new product before they take it out to retail or clearing through inventory.
MertadoMertado has added bedding to its offerings.
     "For the trade, what's nice is we're members-only, so that item doesn't pull up on a [Google] search," she added.
     Mertado has already begun selling home textiles but is looking to add suppliers, said Dusty Eber, senior vp of merchandising and creative alliances, and former president of KN, the Karen Nuberger brand management company.
     "More vendors are more equipped for this than we thought," said Eber. "They've got great art. Most are set up to drop ship."
     The retailer is not interested in basics, said Aronson. "Because it's impulse, we're staying away from basic, boring stuff," she added. "If we would do a basic, it would have to have a twist."

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