A few years ago, the people at Gray Supply Co., based in East Chicago, Ind., had a bright idea: Why not launch a Web site that sells nothing but light bulbs? After all, they thought, the category was fragmented and ideally suited to consolidation. The idea sounded good, so Gray changed its name to Topbulb and now offers more than one million light bulbs and more than 5,000 types, from simple 39-cent offerings to not-so-simple $800 ones.
Though Gray served only the B2B customers, Topbulb caters to both businesses and consumers, says Philip Bonello, president and CEO of the company. The site also has a great deal to offer builders, he adds.
Many of today's houses require specialty lighting for so many areas that they can require more than 23 different types of bulbs. The ability to get all those bulbs from one site would be a huge time-saver, he says. "The simple convenience of ordering through a computer or a wireless network is the main benefit to the builder," Bonello adds. "The builder can also spec all light bulbs so when the homeowners need to re-lamp fixtures in the future, they can simply go to the Web site."
Topbulb offers all kinds of features, but its "Light Menu" will be a popular one with users, the company believes. Existing customers may quickly review all of the previously ordered bulbs so they will know exactly what they need without having to remember product names or codes.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Chicago, IL.