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Martha Stewart Take Note

Not another e-commerce venture! There are so many, and so very few are actually making money. Still, we thought you ought to know about LightingUniverse.com, a Kirkland-based company that came online Feb. 1, 2000. LU bills itself as the “largest Internet lighting store,” never mind that that wording doesn’t make sense (try “the largest lighting store on the Internet”).

LightingUniverse’s claim may just be true, however. Competitors such as furniture.com and homepoint.com do not focus exclusively on lighting, so they probably have nowhere near the 5,500 plus lighting fixtures and products that LightingUniverse.com claims to handle.
“Who cares?” you might insist. Selling niche products online hasn’t exactly proven to be The Next Big Thing. That’s why LightingUniverse.com is positioning itself in the B2B niche. In addition to homeowners, it’s going after trade people: interior designers, architects and builders. Its “Project Builder” creates a list of materials or project specifications that an interior decorator could use in a meeting with clients. The “Catalog Wizard” lets a builder create a customized catalog and send it electronically to clients who then make their choices.
There’s no doubt that LightingUniverse needs to bulk up. The site would be much more useful if it provided product specs for consumers (material used — is it bronze or aluminum? — etc.), and if it contained informative articles on lighting, as well as objective ratings of lighting fixtures produced by the various manufacturers. But that kind of consumer-oriented news and advice may not be possible in retailing, on or off the web.
Still, it’s way to early to judge LightingUniverse. It’s now just building its team — from content creators to shipping managers (See Seattle24x7 Jobs). All we can do is hope that this or any other new e-tailer will pleasantly surprise.

Soula Jones is Content Chief at Seattle24x7.com