Building Niches

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Event Summary

In the seventies, Americans would take foreign visitors to large supermarkets or department stores to give them a one stop encapsulation of American culture. These days, friends from overseas are more typically taken to visit Home Depot. So it's no surprise that independent E-commerce sites devoted to home building and improvement are starting to sprout. Two announced recently are and is a portal site for people in the construction industry. It is a product of Autodesk, Inc., a well-known maker of computer-aided design software. According to the company, "'s total service offering is the only one to address all core functions of the fragmented building design and construction industry-design collaboration, construction administration, bid management, and buying." Visitors to will be able to access industry information, purchase products and services, develop secure areas for members of a project team to share information, including blueprints and specifications, and conduct real-time meetings. Autodesk states that in the $672 billion construction industry it is common for almost 30 percent of the project cost to be attributed to administrative inefficiencies. is a consumer site that brings together products and information from home improvement suppliers, information on various home improvement tasks, online access to home improvement specialists and the ability to purchase goods and services. is partnered with Ace Hardware and brings consumers access to Ace's own warehouse distribution network and to its established relationships with home improvement manufacturers.

Market Impact

We are particularly taken with's innovative use of the Internet to provide services to its target audience. Whether they can succeed at inducing hard hats to work online remains to be seen, but the site demonstrates a creativity that is all too rare. is putting itself up against Home Depot, which is still developing its E-commerce strategy after attempting to ban its suppliers from selling on-line earlier this year. could become the Amazon of home improvements if it can move quickly and establish both a brand and a reputation.

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