As more and more people do their daily shopping online, it is easy to forget that consumers used to approach online shopping with skepticism. The transition from then to where we are today has been a long one, but today e-commerce businesses in the city are flourishing.
But there is still plenty of room for innovation, and Chicago’s e-commerce companies aren’t resting on their laurels. Here are a few local companies putting a new spin on online sales.
If you’ve ever shopped for instruments and music gear at a brick-and-mortar location, you’ll know music stores aren’t quite like other retailers. Music gear is expensive and usually built to last, so when musicians shop for new instruments, they tend to look at both used and new equipment with equal interest. By curating collections of particularly interesting new and used pieces, Reverb brings the experience of geeking out over equipment online.
Move over, Instacart. Peapod has been doing online grocery orders for decades. Founded in 1989 and taking orders at Peapod.com since 1996, this Skokie-based tech company was one of the world’s first e-commerce sites. As it turns out, people are still into getting their groceries delivered. Go figure.
Crate subscription services have been around for a while, but Chicago’s Mystery Tackle Box puts a new spin on the concept. With monthly deliveries of fishing products designed specifically for a fisher’s favorite species, the company is angling for newbies and seasoned sports fishers alike.
Based in Buffalo Grove, Zoro is an online retailer of industrial products and tools. Designed with small businesses and individuals in mind, the company prices each item individually instead of offering complex quantity discount structures.
Don't let the sleek storefronts deceive you: BucketFeet’s still an e-commerce concept at heart. The company's shoes are designed by painters, graffiti artists, graphic designers and photographers from all over the world who receive royalty fees for every item sold.
Online consignment store Luxury Garage Sale made a splash in May when it announced it had raised $5 million to scale its concept, which combines e-commerce with traditional brick-and-mortar locations. The company also recently started bringing its developers in-house, having outsourced the tech side of the business since its founding in 2011.
One of our 50 startups to watch this year, Brideside alleviates some of the stress of wedding planning by having a dedicated stylist pick bridesmaid dresses. Based on an online survey of the bride’s aesthetic preferences, the stylist works with bridesmaids to pick dresses that will work well for them, shipping a total of three options to each. After trying the dresses on, bridesmaids return the ones they don’t want, keeping only the dress they want to wear on the big day.
An online destination for arts and crafts inspiration and supplies, Blitsy is kind of like Pinterest but without the crazy scavenger hunts throughout the city looking for materials. Earlier this year, the company raised $6.2 million to expand into global markets.
Finding the right furniture for a room can be surprisingly complicated. In addition to considerations about styles and colors, a few inches in length can be the difference between your dream couch and one that won’t fit at all. Online furniture retailer Interior Define sells custom-built furniture in a number of styles, letting buyers alter anything from colors and fabrics to changing the size of the pieces.
Curated shopping startup Foxtrot brings the corner store into the 21st century. With the company’s mobile app, users can buy anything from booze and groceries to candles and wristwatches — all on demand.
Images via listed companies.