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  • Susan Dickenson

Next-Generation Retail: Apt2B, Los Angeles

Virtual furniture store is too cool for old school

Apt2B is a Los Angeles-based online shopping site that offers a full range of furniture, home décor, bedding and Apt2B, Los Angeleshousewares. It's a one-stop shop for the home, where items can be purchased separately or in click-and-ship room packages, offering a convenient decorating solution for newcomers and apartment dwellers challenged by space, time, delivery obstacles or unfamiliarity with their new environs.

It's also a social space filled with cool blogs, links, videos and advice from people like "The Guy in 2A" and "The Girls From 2C" who share their thoughts on everything from new products and design tips to apartment hunting, great date places and recreational sports leagues. There's a testimonial wall where happy Apt2B customers post photos of their newly Apt2B-furnished digs, along with first name, neighborhood, favorite color and favorite superhero. The final selling spot for discounted and discontinued items is called the "Trash Chute."

Apt2B offers individual room packages for kitchen, bath and living room as well as three complete home packages priced at $1,988 (studio), $2,688 (deluxe) and $3,888 (penthouse). In the case of the latter, the shopper selects one of the three packages, then clicks through a variety of color, style and size options to create an eight-piece living room and seven-piece bedroom (including mattress), and chooses kitchen and bathroom wares, gadgets, dishes, glasses, utensils, pots and pans, towels, waste cans, lotion pumps, toothbrush holders, etc. Delivery for a complete package within the greater Los Angeles area is around $75, and within the continental U.S. it's $150 (for an order of $750 or more).

Co-owners Mat Herman and Alex Back, together with their team, hand-select Apt2B's pieces based on their comfort, functionality and workability with other items in the company's inventory.

Herman, a second-generation furniture industry veteran, explained the concept. "Apt2B is not just an e-commerce site; we're building a brand. We're trying to build a bridge between Ikea and Crate and Barrel by providing our customers with fun, functional, stylish and affordable furniture, home décor and housewares. Everything on Apt2B is on our website for a reason. We're not throwing products up online just to have them. We've curated these items based on what we think our customers will want - things that show off our modern style but remain price-conscious. We want people to know that style is attainable and affordable."

He estimates Apt2B's success rate at delivering packages to customers, complete and on time, at over 90%. "We are not drop-shippers," Herman said. "If we don't have an ordered item currently in our inventory, we order it to be delivered to our distribution center. From there, one complete delivery is sent out from us - no waiting around multiple days for movers or packages to arrive."

Equally important to the company's success is its engaging website, which draws consumers in and holds their attention for at least five minutes on average with up to 12 page views per visit, according to analytics reports. "Because we live almost solely online, we knew that we had to have an engaging, complex, yet easy-to-use website," Herman said. "It's the lifeblood of Apt2B and we all contribute to keeping it as fresh and fun as possible."

Since launching in June 2011, a growing stream of customers has become fans of Apt2B's affordable style, quality and customer service. The company is shipping nationwide and gaining exposure through partnerships with local businesses and websites, pop-up shops and Costco roadshow set-ups. Last fall, Apt2B became the first recipient of lifestyle web-

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