From Diapers to Soap: Q&A With Quidsi’s Josh Himwich

On July 15, ecommerce company Quidsi launched the new ecommerce site, just five years after it started Customers can toggle back and forth between sites and use a singular shopping cart, thanks to a platform developed by ecommerce service provider Fluid.

Can Quidsi catch lightning in a jar again? Josh Himwich, director of ecommerce solutions for Quidsi, thinks so. Himwich talked to Multichannel Merchant senior writer Tim Parry about the new site launch.

Q: What were you looking for in an e-commerce platform for, and is the platform the same one you’ve been using for

A: We rebuilt large portions of the platform to support the two-sites/one-shopping-cart model. It was a complex project to be sure, but now that it’s built, we have a great foundation on which to build and expand.

Q: How did you determine what product extensions were a good match for, and is that the same approach you took when building

A: We’re strong believers in the Amazon effect. Namely, if you carry everything, people will quickly recognize you as a one-stop shop.

It’s all about bringing more convenience to the customer. As for particular products, we’re always listening to our customers’ suggestions in every channel: email, Facebook and in their onsite searches for brands we don’t carry yet.

Q: How similar are the two customer bases? Is the same customer who is baby care products from the same one who will buy hygiene and health care products from Or is this a completely new customer base?

A: In these early days of, we are mostly talking with our existing customers because Soap represents such a natural way for them to get even more value from our service because you combine everything from both sites into the same shopping cart.

But soon, we’ll reach out to other urban audiences, especially young urban women, by advertising in fashion and entertainment magazines, direct mail to targeted zip codes. We will also be taking over the ad space in 550 New York City subway cars.

Q: When did launch, and what kind of lessons did you learn along the way that made the launch easier?

A: launched in 2005, selling mostly consumables, and then in 2007 and 2008 we moved to selling everything for babies. The most important lesson we’ve learned is how to communicate our value as a brand. Most Internet-only retailers are not actively engaged in brand building, and rather are looking for the single sale, depending mostly on search campaigns, affiliates and comparison shopping sites.

While we’re active in all those channels, of course, we go beyond and speak to our customers in magazines, direct mail and have an ever-increasing conversation with them in the social space.

Q: Speaking of social media, when did you jump into social, and what kind of lessons did you learn along the way?

A: 2010 represents our first, deep initiative in the social space. We’ve hired against it and we’re actively developing and deepening the conversation with our customers.

The most important thing we’ve embraced around social is, at least for the present, there’s no ROI to be found. And that’s okay. If you’re doing it primarily to drive customers to your site, you’re there for the wrong reasons. Today, social is about having a meaningful conversation with your customers and creating those brand ties that will repay themselves many times over in the years to come.

Q: You recently posted a video to YouTube and Facebook that gave consumers a behind-the-scenes look at your distribution center. Are you using the same DC for, and did you have to make any modifications to add this second business?

A: It’s the same warehouses, the same robots and the same next-day delivery.

Q: What is the importance of ratings and reviews on your sites? Are you seeing customers influenced by other customers, or determining products to eliminate?

A: The importance of ratings and reviews is immense, and it’s a story that we’re only at the beginning of. When presented with the tyranny of choice, reviews are like a beacon of light that cut through the options and clarify what the customer should click on. You’ll see much more functionality around reviews coming from our partner, PowerReviews, in the near future, including integrations with Facebook.

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