Rochester tech entrepreneur acquires e-commerce site, plots turnaround

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guyvillenewAs a long-time e-commerce consultant for companies seeking to boost their online sales, Nate Ende knows a thing or two about selling products on the Web.

Always looking to stay busy and put his carefully honed skills to use, Ende realized that he wanted needed a side project. So last fall, he negotiated a deal to purchase Guyville.com, an underperforming biz that had been owned by California-based Shopping Stand, one of his company’s clients at the time.

Ende saw potential in the aptly named Guyville, which specializes in selling gifts targeted towards men. So he decided to attack the challenge of turning around an online retailer that was lagging, in part, due to a muddled design and a substandard user experience, as you can see:

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“This is what I do, it’s kind of my trade,” Ende says. “Some people garden in their spare time. I do what I’m good at.”

He and his Rochester-based team have been working nights and weekends to overhaul Guyville and make it profitable. This involved completely revamping the design, transitioning to a far more clean and simple look, and updating the interface to make it more intuitive and accessible by using the analytics-based approach that they apply for clients:

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To that end, they also took another major step to attract and convert users: they eliminated shipping fees and all other hidden costs, so “the price they see is the price they pay.”

These measures have already produced results. When Ende acquired Guyville, the site was doing between 50-100 visitors per day, and converting at a rate below 0.5 percent. Already he reports that traffic and conversion have both increased over 300%.

It’s been a labor-intensive process, but Ende notes that inheriting an existing property has made things a little easier as opposed to starting from scratch. Products and supplier relationships were already in place, allowing his team to focus completely on the selling and marketing aspects. They also aren’t saddled by the debt that bogs down many startups.

endeLong-term, he says his goal is to build Guyville up a point where he might be able to attract interested buyers and resell. But for the time being, he’s solely focused on continuing to refine the site and build traffic. His stated goal for this year is to reach 200,000 visitors. Next year? Two million.

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little ambition. And it’s not hard to see why Ende is feeling good about his current position.

“We’re hitting this growth stage right now where we’re just taking profits and reinvesting them in marketing. So we’re excited. This is going to be a big year for us.”

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