Is Evernote getting out of the retail business?

Flash sales and app changes point to an end to the Evernote Market

Two years ago, Evernote shocked the world when the company began selling a whole smorgasbord of physical products.

Some of them made sense, like a stylus that worked with Evernote’s app and a scanner that pulled documents into the note-taking software. Others were more tenuously connected to Evernote’s core business, with observers taking particular glee in pointing out the company’s new collection of socks.

At the time, then-CEO Phil Libin said the Evernote Market was a way for the company to diversify its revenue streams, taking advantage of customer loyalty to make more money by selling high-quality (and high-priced) goods. The store’s limited selection was curated by a group of employees inside the company who had other day jobs, and it included unique and hard-to-find items from designers around the world.

Last October, Libin said Evernote had sold $12 million in merchandise in the Market’s first year, with 50 percent of sales coming from first-time purchasers who hadn’t paid for any Evernote product before.

But a lot has changed since then. Now, it seems that the Market may be on its way out. Evernote used to promote it inside the company’s mobile applications, but the button to access it has disappeared from the Evernote apps for iOS and Android. And the company has offered progressively deeper sales over the past few weeks, even on expensive products.

Those don’t seem like moves the company would make if it were trying to keep the store open. If Evernote wanted to drive more interest in its retail operations with deep price cuts, it would make sense to promote the sale in the mobile and desktop apps, but that's not happening.

User response to the sale seems to indicate why Evernote would want to shut down the Market in the first place. Reactions on Twitter were muted, to say the least, with little discussion except in Japanese. Discussions on Evernote’s own forum don’t seem to show anyone noticing that the company has pulled the Market tab from mobile apps, either.

The changes to Evernote’s business model line up with big shifts at the company as a whole. Earlier this year, Libin was replaced as CEO by former Googler Chris O’Neill and Chief Operating Officer Linda Kozlowski reportedly is going to leave the company at the end of this year along with other executives.

Evernote has been tightening its belt across the board, laying off 19 percent of its employees and closing 3 of its 10 global offices in the past year. Closing down the market would make sense if Evernote is going to refocus its efforts on building its core application.

The company hasn’t said anything about its plans for the market, however. A representative for the company didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment on this report.

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