In Good Company

April 12, 2010

Independent retailers are often, well, independent — tooting their own horn to the beat of their own drummer and avoiding malls, chains, brand names and other forms of group think. But there’s something to be said for teaming up with likeminded individuals — especially if that gets your store above the background buzz caused by the name recognition of big competitors with big advertising budgets.

In the offline world, this often takes the form of Buy Local First campaigns. But online, where local may not matter so much, there are still ways for indies to band together: not only to take advantage of economies of scale, but to create a sort of meta-brand that consumers can come to know, trust, and think of first when they’re looking for something different.

Two innovative companies doing just that are Hayneedle and Taigan.

Hayneedle offers 220 stores, each devoted to a single product category, which can be shopped via a single global shopping cart. Hayneedle, which is is privately held and funded by Insight Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital.  employs more than 300 online marketing, technical, customer service, and sales representatives.

Taigan, with nearly 40 retailers and counting, allows overlap of product category to focus more on the individual visions of the brick-and-mortar stores which make up its offerings. The site is named for the rare sighthound of Kyrgysztan, which hunts not only by sight and speed, but by using all its senses.