With the experience that comes from 35 years in business, Phillips International, Inc. is a master of the art of timing. According to the jewelry supplier's director of sales Marc St. Pierre, competition in the value priced fashion jewelry market is very intense, and the company that gets ahead of the trends emerges as a leader. That's how Phillips, through CoolJewels.com, has forged a top level position among its competitors. "It is important that we stay ahead of the trends," says St. Pierre, "so we have the product hitting our warehouse just as the product is on the upswing."
That process starts in Europe, where the company's designers and executives travel to keep a finger on the pulse of the fashion industry. "Our product development team picks up on the trends that are coming out of Europe," explains St. Pierre. "They usually hit there sooner." The Phillips team makes sure to talk with customers to see what is selling. St. Pierre emphasizes, "The right feel and the right look are going to mean the difference between being successful and unsuccessful."
The next step is to order, make and deliver the right product when it is in demand. Given modern technology, a fast turnaround time in manufacturing and shipment is possible. "With the production time in China," says St. Pierre, "we can be very early to market with new and popular styles." What are the hottest products right now? According to St. Pierre, one current trendy item is the bullet necklace; an amulet shaped like a bullet, often on a cord or dog tag-like chain. These bullet necklaces, made popular by actress Jennifer Aniston, come in stainless steel, copper, and silver finishes. CoolJewels.com sells these at $1.65 to $2.65 wholesale, in multiples of 12. Jewelry featuring dragons, yin yang symbols, and even both at the same time, are also quite popular. These are just a few of the 2,000-plus skus active on the website. "The feature of our website that sets us apart from other wholesale jewelry sites is the variety that we offer," comments St. Pierre, adding that the site lets retailers get everything they need in one place. "We offer one-stop fulfillment. Without Cool Jewels, you might have to go to five or six websites and pay shipping at each one."
Search engines and search engine strategy plays a big role in the success of CoolJewels.com. "A lot of our customers find us by typing in a unique product in Google," says St. Pierre. "They might think, ?Hey, Jennifer Aniston is wearing a bullet necklace, and a lot of people are looking for that. Where can I find that?' Then they type it into Google and find us." Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is an important part of the company's strategy. However, St. Pierre is quick to point out that being first to market is more important than having lots of backlinks. "The most important part is to be on top of unique items," he emphasizes. "When no one else has an item, it is easier to find us. When you are selling something with no competition, it is easy for customers to find," which speaks to the company's strength as a trendsetter.
Phillips has put a lot of effort into ensuring that the site is even more friendly for retail buyers than it is for Google's searchbots. Navigation and search make it easy for customers to visit the site and find other products they want. The company also offers product information, including wholesale prices, which are available to anyone online. "Our goal is to make things as easy as possible for the customer," explains St. Pierre, emphasizing the company's lack of a registration policy. "The last thing a customer wants is to get to the site, register for something, and then get an emailed password. By the time you finish the process, you don't even feel like shopping anymore. We put the merchandise right out there for people to shop, and they only have to enter their information at checkout."
The CoolJewels.com site is designed around a retailer customer base. "The website is clearly marked for wholesale only," says St. Pierre. "Everything is sold in dozens, and the minimum is $200, so we are able to keep consumers away." Communicating with buyers is crucial, and Phillips International uses an email newsletter to pass information to customers. "When a customer comes to our site, we ask them to join an emailing list that includes pictures. Then we can email new products as they come in." Although the company is using social media, it depends on email as the best way to alert customers about products. "We do have a Facebook page, but we find that the direct newsletter is the best at this point," says St. Pierre.
Phillips International does a significant amount of business with brick and mortar souvenir and gift shops, and it caters to these customers with floor and counter displays. "Jewelry displays are everything," explains St. Pierre. "The most successful way to display jewelry is to put it on a floor spinner. That's more successful than showcases on countertops or walls, or any other method. People like to see a big representation and assortment of jewelry, and when you do a floor display, you have four sides, so you are able to tell four strong stories, make four strong statements. A lot of the time, the customer may try us on a counter, and it's not successful, because typically people are waiting in line at a counter to pay for the merchandise. They aren't going to get up to the counter and start shopping for jewelry. The counter is for impulse items. Jewelry needs to be on a floor display."
In the current economy, Phillips works hard to offer margins and prices that work. "I'm hearing a lot of customers are finding it tough out there, but luckily for us we are selling jewelry at price points of $9.99 and under, and that has been key," explains St. Pierre. "Customers can easily obtain three to four times mark-ups on our products."
For more information:
Phillips International Inc.
717 NW 2nd St.
Hallandale, FL 33009
Toll Free: 800-432-3636
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