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E‑commerce startup Crane & Canopy slashes department store markups

A ris­ing new e‑commerce start­up, Crane & Canopy, is slash­ing depart­ment store markups on a dynam­i­cal­ly expand­ing range of pil­lows and comforters.

Dis­cern­ing e‑commerce man­agers and e‑commerce ana­lysts will appre­ci­ate the company’s shrewd and savvy strat­e­gy. It’s zap­ping as much as 70 per­cent off design­er prices by design­ing, sell­ing and ship­ping its taste­ful­ly neu­tral range of prod­ucts itself, sav­ing over­heads that would oth­er­wise go to retail stores, importers and exporters and licens­ing firms.

Inno­vate or sink?

In the increas­ing­ly crowd­ed e‑commerce space, unique inno­va­tions are becom­ing the key to suc­cess. While Beautylish makes a bid for the m‑commerce mar­ket, Shutl offers ultra-fast deliv­ery on prod­ucts pur­chased online. Ris­ing star The Fan­cy may elbow in on Pinterest’s space by offer­ing online sales for the items fea­tured, not sim­ply a look at the images.

Crane & Canopy is just three months old and its strat­e­gy seems fire­proof. Fol­low­ing an increas­ing e‑commerce trend to ditch the mid­dle­man, it makes its prod­ucts from the very same fac­to­ries used by top design­ers, but does so with direct contracts.

Fast and flexible

Co-founder Christo­pher Sun, who cre­at­ed the com­pa­ny with fel­low Har­vard Busi­ness School stu­dent Karen Shieh, claims that the key to its suc­cess lay in flat­ten­ing the sup­ply chain, a con­vo­lut­ed process that took almost a year to achieve. But with that job wrapped up, the firm can now intro­duce new prod­ucts at the drop of a hat. Where­as top brands are tied to sea­son­al launch­es because they have to co-ordi­nate with licens­ing com­pa­nies and stores, Crane & Canopy can bring new lines on stream in a mat­ter of days.

Ms Shieh said that the firm is vast­ly more flex­i­ble than the big brand leviathans because it can respond imme­di­ate­ly to cus­tomer feed­back appear­ing on social sites like Twit­ter, Pin­ter­est and Face­book, adjust­ing instant­ly to con­sumer likes and dislikes.

Mon­ey has been raised so far from angel investors, and the com­pa­ny is look­ing to expand its range beyond bed­ding to include sofa pil­lows and tow­els in the near future.

Ms Shieh remarked, “We’re try­ing new things with home goods that the big play­ers have nev­er tried, because we’re going to the fac­to­ries direct­ly and say­ing, ‘Let’s do some­thing different.’”

She makes a good point. A pin­tuck duvet cov­er will cost $190 at Bloomingdale’s. At Crane & Canopy, it’s just $99.

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