How One Niche Online Wholesaler Is Carving Out Space in a Crowded Ecommerce Market

Boxed CEO explained how his company stands out

Boxed CEO Chieh Huang thinks brands can still succeed in the age of Amazon. Getty Images
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

The ever-looming presence of Amazon in the ecommerce (and even offline) world is one threat retailers consistently have at the top of their mind.

While some traditional brands are shaken by Amazon’s existence, others, like digitally native brands, appear less concerned and instead are focusing on building their brand and appealing to consumers. Boxed, an online wholesale company with no membership fee, is one of those companies that isn’t afraid of Amazon, Chieh Huang CEO of Boxed, said at Shoptalk, a retail conference in Las Vegas.

“There are niche players that can live in the shadow of Amazon,” Huang said. “There’s so much money to be spent online these days.”

Boxed pegs itself as the online wholesale club for millennials who live in cities that want the benefits of buying in bulk but don’t want to necessarily pay a membership fee (or drive to one of those centers). Huang pointed to the company’s growth in Texas, where many residents own cars and can drive to these wholesale clubs—but they aren’t.

“This is a time and patience problem,” Huang said. “What [these customers] don’t have is increasingly the time and patience to access wholesale savings.”

Boxed’s numbers are proving that its customers—and the company—might be onto to something. Despite a limited product selection of about 1,600 items, the average order value of a box is $100, with eight to 10 items per order. While shipping costs are top of mind for Huang, the large basket size and automated fulfillment center help drive shipping costs down.

For brands coming to Boxed’s platform, Huang touts the company’s ability to close the ROI loop as well as providing demographics and a consumer’s path to purchase data as well.

“Brands are now coming into Boxed to spend on a cost per click platform that we built ourselves,” Huang said.

Huang also thinks a few of the company’s touches, like the “box selfie,” where Boxed sends a photo of the contents in a box to let customers know their whole order is coming and standing up to “pink tax,” an increase in prices for women’s items such as feminine products and razors, resonate with its customer base.

“People are gravitating towards it simply because of the brand,” Huang said.

@itstheannmarie Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.