It was a big gamble on the future of commerce at the time, and through some trial by fire over the years, their long story short is one of redemption under new CEO Brenda Boehler.
After some time spent becoming profitable in the first place, Bellacor was hit hard in the mid-2000’s by America’s housing crisis/recession, considering their dependency on new home sales, existing remodels, and discretionary household income.
Sales stagnated while customer complaints racked up. As the business flatlined, they were forced cut the staff in half, regroup, and put their CFO in charge of stabilizing the business.
Eventually, the bleeding stopped and two of Bellacor’s board members, Dale Nitschke (former president of Target.com, now Ovative partner) and Dan Mallin (Magnet 360), went on a headhunt for a new chief executive officer to revitalize.
In early 2014, they found Boehler based on her digital retailing career experience with Fingerhut, Target and ShopNBC.
“I would love to say that it’s been a straight growth story all along, but the truth is that the recession hit Bellacor pretty hard,” Boehler explains. “I’ve always had a huge passion for the home and have really understand that customer segment, so I gladly accepted the challenge.”
In her first year, time was split between managing continuity while understanding as much as possible about the company from every angle. Starting with the consumers brand perception through the path to purchase and ultimately ending with customer retention, every aspect of the model was under the microscope.
She reviewed and renegotiated relationships held with the 500 unique manufacturers that supply some 500,000+ products offered, embraced social media channels like Pinterest, hired-up in key SEO/analyst roles, and most notably expanded their B2B channel from near zero to what now claims 15% of sales and rising.
“There is no silver bullet in e-commerce, but with the right people and measurements it can become more of a science.”
Following this period of existential crisis, Bellacor is now projecting its third year straight of double digit financial growth with 67+ employees operating out of a new downtown North Loop office. And just this week, they hired a new Director of Customer Acquisition, Lisa Becchetti, from Best Buy.
Boehler didn’t disclose current revenues, but suggested that they are now over $30m and less than $50m per year — with nothing but upside potential in store as they look ahead at what has become $60 billion dollar annual industry.