Consignment store enters e-commerce market

Courtney Symons
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Boomerang Kids, a local consignment franchise, wants to become the Kijiji of children's retail, according to co-owner Krista Thompson.

Boomerang Kids co-owners Heather Meek and Krista Thompson.

The local company recently received $50,000 in funding from the Digital Technology Adoption Pilot Program, implemented by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program.

That money will be used to issue a request for proposals for a vendor to create an e-commerce solution for the company that will allow it to track merchandise from each of its four stores and complete online transactions.

Boomerang Kids is looking for an off-the-shelf e-commerce solution with lots of customer support and ongoing innovation to create a rich shopping experience, Ms. Thompson says. It should also have mobile capabilities.

“We really want to become as much of a technology company as we are a retail storefront,” she says. “There just aren’t that many consignment stores that are taking this as seriously as we are.”

A test launch of the technology will take place in March.

While the store ventures into the e-commerce market, it’s also dipping its feet into the world of franchising. Co-owners Ms. Thompson and Heather Meek sold the original Bank Street store in June, and two more transactions are in the works out of the three remaining locations in Kanata, Orleans and Westboro.

Ms. Thompson says they believe the region can support additional stores in Barrhaven and Gatineau. Property has yet to be acquired in those locations.

Franchising the company means the two co-owners will spend less time running stores and more time expanding the brand across the country. Their goal is to have 30 units within the next three to five years, Ms. Thompson says, beginning in southern Ontario and then heading west. Potential franchisees have also expressed interested in Halifax, N.S.

Plans for growth haven’t slowed during the economic downtown.

“Where retail stagnated, we grew,” Ms. Thompson says. “It’s a recession-proof market. We find that resale is definitely hitting the mainstream in terms of retail options for people.”

In 2011, the company received $35,000 in IRAP funding from the federal government that it used to buy technology from local company LavaBlast. The software allowed Boomerang Kids to create a custom consignment point-of-sale solution and a franchisee online portal.

The new technology sought through the RFP will take the LavaBlast software and link it to an e-commerce platform.

DTAPP is an $80-million three-year pilot program funded by the federal government seeking to spur innovation and increase productivity in small and medium-sized businesses that adopt digital technologies.

Geographic location: March.While, Kanata, Barrhaven Gatineau Southern Ontario Halifax

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