INDEPENDENT RETAILER magazine is now the official news outlet for Wholesale Central visitors.
Each monthly issue is packed with new product ideas, supplier profiles, retailing news, and
business strategies to help you succeed.
See new articles daily online at IndependentRetailer.com.
Mar 1, 2012
Kole Imports has been a successful wholesaler of general merchandise for the past 26 years, growing a solid customer base and building itself into a brand name in the industry. In the past two years, however, the wholesaler has also focused on becoming a leader in the world of drop shipping, by going live with a data feed at dropship.koleimports.com. Drop shipping allows retailers to add items to their store without needing to store the merchandise, as the drop shipping company will blind ship the items to the customer with the retailer collecting payment. This allows online retailers to increase the number of items available in their stores without any additional expenses. While Kole Imports previously accommodated customers who wanted orders drop shipped, the addition of the data feed adds a level of sophistication to their current program.
The drop shipping data feed, which is updated each day, can be downloaded for free on Kole's drop shipping website, dropship.koleimports.com. "Most people who have a data feed charge monthly fees for it, and if they don't charge a monthly fee, they charge a drop ship fee for every order," says Jason Kole, VP of business development for Kole Imports. "We do neither of those things. Almost all of our large drop ship competitors charge between $29.99 and $59.99 a month for access to their data feed. In addition, they are not the warehouses that own the goods, but are really drop ship aggregators. They will take data feeds from multiple companies like ours, and sell them to the customers." Kole Imports however, is the actual owner of the products, and is able to offer the true wholesale pricing on those goods.
The data feed is completely customizable, and contains all the information necessary to load products onto an online sales channel. Users choose which merchandise categories and items to include on their feed, with details such as the items' images, weights, colors, packaging styles, and the quantities in which they are sold. From there, they are supplied with a unique download URL and can upload everything at once. "We make it really easy for people to get started with our program," Kole notes. "In the past, customers needed to list one item at a time manually, but now it can be done all at once. They can now submit orders on our website, including entering a UPS or FedEx account for shipping. So if you have a website and a valid account, you can enter an order on our drop ship site and send it directly to your customer." Kole will ship all orders the day they are ordered, and has a 99.9 percent fulfillment rate, making the drop ship program incredibly efficient and effective for customers.
Because the minimum order size is so low, and products are available in such small packs, the program is tailored towards the retail customer as well as the light bulk wholesale buyer. This allows Kole to ship hundreds of drop ship orders each day, with amounts ranging from $10 up to hundreds or thousands of dollars. "We've made a commitment to really focus on drop shipping at a time when companies of our size and stature have not been focusing on it," Kole adds. "We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past couple of years building up this enterprise to enable a company that has always sold by the truckload to be able to ship $15 orders. So it really is a seismic shift in the way that we do business."
The low order size opens Kole Imports up to millions of new customers. "That might mean a cub scout leader that needs to go online to find 20 rain panchos for his troop, or a mechanic who wants to order 300 jumper cables for his store and doesn't know to go to a wholesaler directly," Kole says. "Both can easily buy from our drop shipping program. The mechanic has always been buying from a local auto body shop, but he can now get those jumper cables cheaper. Same thing with the cub scout leader. He may have gone to the store to buy panchos for five dollars apiece, but now he can go online and buy them for a dollar each from any of our drop ship customers." Kole has more than 5,000 unique SKUs, ranging from toys, tools, housewares, party items, pet products, and much more. In addition, the wholesaler also has a large line of closeout goods, which are constantly added to the feed, giving participants in the drop ship program the unique ability to always have new products available on their website. While most of the products are only sold in wholesale quantities, Kole does have about 300 items that can be drop shipped by the piece. In the future, Jason Kole notes that the company will be working hard to get its Application Protocol Interface (API) into the hands of more people who can integrate with it. API allows two computers to communicate with each other without human input, allowing the applications of Kole and the participating online store to interact automatically, giving accurate information about product availability, descriptions, and pricing each day.
Topic: Company Profiles
Entire contents ©2017, Sumner Communications, Inc. (203) 748-2050. All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Sumner Communications, Inc. except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via e-mail to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.