With an 18-year-history of selling jewelry and incense, Killerbeads has a nose for what ecommerce merchants need. Since adding a shopping cart capability to its website, for example, a growing number of e-retailers have been visiting the Killerbeads site to source and buy products. "We do have a number of customers who are ecommerce dealers, and we've actually seen that particular market growing over the last few years," says Michelle Mosscrop, sales and marketing manager for Killerbeads. "We've been online for about ten years, but only in the last five have we added a shopping cart and made it user friendly for our customers."
Killerbeads currently gets almost a third of its sales through that shopping cart. "Online is about 30 percent of the business," Mosscrop reports. "However, it is hard to judge. Some customers shop online, then call to order. Some see a catalog and then go online to buy." Mosscrop explains that although the company's jewelry lines are especially popular among ecommerce retailers, the key to Killerbeads' value for those merchants is the deep level of selling expertise that ensures profits. "I have quite a few online retailers," she says. "We try to understand the products they are carrying and who their customer base is. We focus on products that are going to be good sellers, and that will be easy for them to put online. Once we learn what they do and who they are selling to, we can offer advice." Killerbeads is so sure its advice will drive sales, the company will exchange any product that is not selling and recommend something else to try. "We have exchange programs for items that do not move in a reasonable amount of time," says Mosscrop, confidently. "The jewelry sells." She points to the long lifetime of a basic core of products from Killerbeads that have been good sellers. "We have items we've been carrying that just sell year after year," she says. "If something is working for our customers, we grow that line for them. We know what will sell and who it will sell to."
Killerbeads does not offer a dropship program, largely because customers have not needed it. "A full product selection requires very little volume to cover what retailers need to carry," Mosscrop says. It is easy for a seller to keep sufficient stock on hand, and fast replenishment can solve any stocking problem. "We are able to deliver in 24 to 48 hours," says Mosscrop, "so if our customers run out of something, it is very easy to get them what they need." Low minimums make replenishment painless, too, as first time orders are only $100, and subsequent orders just $75. "It's very reasonable," says Mosscrop, adding, "there is a pre-pack minimum of six pieces per style."
Killerbeads has put a lot of effort into its ecommerce website, designing it for the use of retailers only. "It is strictly for wholesale," says Mosscrop. The company has worked hard to evolve the site toward increasing user friendliness. Initially, a password was required to see wholesale pricing, but the early implementation of that made it hard for retailers to get the information they needed. The solution was to lift the requirement. "We password protected our website at one point, but once we removed it, we saw the site being used more frequently," Mosscrop explains. "Now, we have a big notice on our home page that clearly tells Internet browsers that they need an account, and moreover, they need a tax ID to open a new account with us."
The site currently includes several useful features, including a new products section, closeouts section, a programs section, and actual wholesale pricing for all products. "We have links within our website for any items that are new, as well as for discontinued and sale items," Mosscrop points out. Product art is another strong point. "The pictures are very good, so you can click and enlarge them, and we make sure our products are pictured so you can see all the detail," she adds, noting the advantage for ecommerce merchants. "Our jewelry shows really well online," she says. An improved registration system for Killerbeads is in the works, with the goal of being easy to use.
Killerbeads caters to a diverse customer base. "We do a lot of business with resort companies, seasonal festivals and fairs, and gift shops. It's quite a variety," according to Mosscrop. The company's diversity reflects its widely international outlook and the sensibility of its founders. "Originally, our company was started by a surfer and an airbrush artist," says Mosscrop. "They traveled all over the world and came back with products from Guatemala and Greece and India. That's how Killerbeads got started. They went on the road and started doing trade shows back in 1993." The company, now with a staff of 14, continues to import interesting products from overseas. "As a wholesale accessories and incense company, we import jewelry from all over the world," she says. "We have 13 product lines and over 1,000 skus of jewelry and incense."
To serve a wide range of customers, Killerbeads offers some exceptional programs and displays. "We offer countertop displays and countertop racks," says Mosscrop, "but our greatest asset is our floor rack program, which holds about $1,500 worth of jewelry. A retailer can turn over the jewelry on the rack to make $3,000 or $4,000 on this one stand. It does not take up a lot of room, and we offer two colors. This really is our number one seller." The margins on the floor stand are similar to those available from other lines and offerings, according to Mosscrop. "The accessories business offers a good return, because while our products are inexpensive, they have great margins, from three to four times markup. With a price point under $10 for many of our items, retailers can turn product quickly and reorder. It's been a good line of business for many companies."
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