Throwback Thursday: E-commerce Pioneers
Whatever happened to Hardware.com? The August 2000 issue of NHCN has the answer.
At the recent turn of the century, the e-retailing business was bubbling. Some would call it frothy. And of course, not every well-conceived plan achieved dot-com gold.
By the time the August 2000 issue of National Home Center News, hit newsstands, the shakeout had begun. The magazine, the forerunner of HBSDealer, reported the demise of two pioneering companies that never made it to the promised land: Hardware.com, and Living.com. The headline: “Two e-tailers fade to black” captured the heart of the story.
Hardware.com was described as one of the first online home improvement stores to go live. It began its run in 1998 as Superbuild.com, “the home improvement superstore.” The company’s effort to pivot in June 200 into a full-service online supplier catering to remodelers and small contractors failed to stick. Ultimately, the company was folded into Wal-Mart.com.
Today, the web address brings one to a UK-based technology company.
Living.com took a different path to the digital graveyard. The Austin, Texas-based company sold furniture, lighting, rugs and decor. Feeling pressure in May 2000, the company agreed to pay Amazon $145 million for the rights to fulfill all orders in a “Home Living” store on Amazon’s Web site. But a few weeks later, the company shed 50 employees, and it discontinued operations later that year.
Today, Living.com brings one to the Discovery channel.
The year 2000 article also included interesting analysis from Sean Curry, who was chief operating officer of HomeTownStores.com. That web site was steadily thriving by emphasizing traditional business best practices. Curry explained: “We didn’t give away the house, we didn’t’ offer free shipping, we didn’t go crazy advertising ourselves,” he said. We are running a sustainable and profitable slow-growing business. Looking back, we’re so glad we didn’t get any venture capital and ride the fast train.”
Hometownstores.com automatically redirects to the home page of Curry Ace Hardware, operators of three stores in Massachusetts.
HBSDealer’s Throwback Thursday is sponsored by Schaffer Associates, a national management consulting firm specializing in executive search and organizational strategies for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As the premier management consulting firm serving the industry, we help build organizations and leadership teams that foster corporate growth and success well into the future. Contact us at SchafferAssociates.com.