Just about every retail business gets a vital boost in the final months of the year, but for merchants who specialize in seasonal goods, there's no season like the holiday season. From cards and decor to party supplies and costumes, the products that sell best from Halloween to the New Year are the ones that can make or break a retailer's annual bottom line. What's the best way for these merchants to hedge their bets for the year-end selling season? Consider getting an early jump on the hot products and the future best sellers, as described in the ecommerce wholesale supplier profiles that follow.
Gary King, president of King Craft Co., says the Christmas selling season is a key part of his company's business. "We're a floral and craft wholesaler," he explains, "and this business is very holiday driven." King has observed that certain craft segments are moving more solidly than others. "We seem to be doing better with country stuff," he says. "The younger people want the glitzier stuff. Primitives, what we can get of it, seem to be a good seller." King comments that he has seen some product scarcity in some segments, citing recent logistical problems in his Chinese sourcing supply train.
King Craft has been selling online for over ten years, and it is a crucial part of the company's operations. "We do a fair percentage of our business on the web," King acknowledges. "We sell wholesale through the web, as well as through open warehouse shopping." Keeping prices low is a priority in this economy. "We try to price things so the little guy can buy at the same price as the big guy. We work pretty close, so we don't have a whole lot of give. We try to be cheaper," King emphasizes. Being aware of customer needs, King Craft accepts smaller purchases and offers reasonable shipping, the minimum order is just $100. As King explains, "Hopefully we are honest with our customers and treat them decently. We ship orders out the same day we receive them. We only charge the amount of freight that is actually on the box. I've been doing this for 36 years, and I'd just as soon as not have anyone ever think we didn't treat them right."
King Craft puts that personal touch into its relationships with customers. "We'd like to be known as somebody who tries to treat customers fairly. We're a regular guy kind of place, where you can call and talk to the owners," says King. "That way I know what they are looking for. If somebody wants to call and talk with me, I take the time to talk with them."
Jonathan Glatt, president and CEO of Private Island Entertainment LLC, has been in the business of selling party and costume products since 1992. "Our customers range from theaters and party planners to discount and other retailers," he says. The holidays, especially Halloween, are key to his sales, and this year the hot products are licensed items. "We're looking at Avatar," he mentions, "although, anything licensed will be popular. Marvel and DC movies are interesting, especially to kids, not to mention Pirates of the Caribbean. These are guaranteed sales." Glatt also says that Michael Jackson theme products are very popular.
The company's website, at PrivateIslandParty.com, covers a dozen product categories. The site uses Google Translate to offer access in a wide choice of languages. Fourty-three users have offered positive reviews, and the site is secured by Authorize.net and GeoTrust. In addition, Private Island Entertainment offers a lowest price guarantee. According to the site, "Our guarantee to you is that if you find something for less, let us know, and we'll make up the difference at 115 percent!" In addition, Glatt says that there are an array of new items appearing soon.
Michael Penna, owner of Gift Bliss Enterprises, knows the value of the holiday season for his signature Instant Snow To Go product. The artificial snow is a hot item during the winter holidays. "For our Snow To Go product, the holiday season is extremely important. That's probably the time of year we do 70 percent of our business for that product," he says. Gift Bliss specializes in different ways to package Snow To Go, and that significantly affects sales. "Polypack is the most flexible product, but the jar product really starts taking off in the stores November first," Penna explains. "That's when folks start buying it as a physical present and as a decorating item that they can use with Christmas villages and that kind of decor."
The Snow To Go website serves retail and wholesale buyers. "The Internet is fairly important to our business," Penna says. "It gets the publicity out about the product. It lets us provide a lot of information in detail, and a reseller can get a lot of information about Snow To Go." The company also uses the Internet to serve retail customers in other ways. For instance, "We post links to reseller websites so that resellers get sales leads over the web," he explains. "We use Facebook as a tool to post news about our tradeshow appearances, our new products, and links to discussion boards. We're trying to really innovate and do things that are uncommon."
Curtis Nam, the primary seasonal buyer for JC Sales, a wholesaler selling to discount and bargain retailers, says that holiday decor is going to be a brisk seller. "We carry more than 300 seasonal items, all online, and the hot products include flowers and wreaths," he says. "Flowers have been picking up for Christmas, and there are a lot of good wreaths out there?round colorful ones, decorated with ornaments and garland." He expects that ornaments and PVC ribbon also will sell briskly. "We do very well with PVC ribbons. That's a big category. The ribbons are attractive and stand out, you can use them to decorate walls and doors," Nam reveals. Retailers are urged to put these products on display. As for Halloween, he expects costumes and baskets to do well.
Another representative at JC Sales, Wally Lee, explains the expanding role that a new ecommerce website is playing in boosting the company's fortunes. "It is growing in importance as our ecommerce sales increase. We've only had it for eight months," says Lee. "We have about 11,000 skus online, and variety is our greatest strength." Product wholesale prices are freely viewable. "We have a showroom model that is open to the public," he mentions. "We want everyone to come to us and then come back. We want to offer the lowest prices we can." That is important in a price sensitive economy, Lee remarks, continuing, "We do monthly promotional emails. Our customers want to see low cost items in stock. We're in the extreme value market."
However, JC Sales has faced some hurdles in starting this new ecommerce venture. "Our biggest challenge is making it easy for customers to find what they need. We are also still building our qualified traffic," says Lee. JC Sales is growing traffic through a variety of tactics, including several optimizing techniques intended to boost search results. "We only sell wholesale, so we are focusing on keywords that are geared toward the wholesale trade," he explains. "We use SEO, online articles, and backlinks for Google, and we have affiliate programs that generate a lot of traffic."
Scott Kaeser, the publisher at Tide-mark, knows about the strength of the holiday selling season, because his company has sold cards, calendars and other printed products for 30 years. "We make a range of seasonal wall decor pieces that seem to be selling very well, in part because they are new," he comments. "They feature Ivory Cats in Christmas settings and are very appealing. As ready-to-hang wall decor, we think that they are priced attractively, too."
Tide-mark uses the Internet to connect to its retailer customers. "We sell primarily at wholesale," explains Kaeser. "Our website is a good reference for people interested in what we make." The site features an affiliate program and offers wholesale customers a ten percent discount on the first purchase. Tide-mark also offers the advantages of custom orders and dropshipping. "We can offer unique and different products," mentions Kaeser. "Some of the pieces we make can be customized. We also drop ship, so retailers don't necessarily need to stock inventory."
David Koehler, the president of Koehler Home Decor, has one word when asked about the brightest seasonal product his company offers: "Lanterns, lanterns and lanterns! We have experienced exceptional sales due to our exciting candle lantern line." He also suggests that eco-themed products are going to sell well. The company has thrived by serving smaller retailers through the Internet since 2005. "We recognized that smaller retailers, ecommerce merchants, mom and pops, and resellers didn't have a wholesale source that would sell to them in smaller quantities with no minimum order requirement," recalls Koehler. "While unconventional, our business model proved to be a huge success on the web." He adds that sales have increased 30 percent in the last year.
The company still has more to offer its customers. "Koehler Home Decor offers a free dropshipping service that enables ecommerce merchants to expand inventory with no inventory investment," says Koehler. "Our free dropshipping service is extremely popular, and we provide product data files and stock status in our Wholesale Resource Center. We blind dropship under generic label and bring new arrivals in weekly, making us a perfect fit for anyone looking to increase sales with additional product lines."
Nygala Corp., has been in the manufacturing business since 1971, and has almost 20 years of experience as an importer and supplier. According to a spokesperson for the company, the best sellers for this coming season will include decorations for gifts, especially gift bags, wrapping, stockings and hats, bows, ribbons, ornaments and decoration items, as well as the gifts themselves. Looking ahead, other festive items will do well, including window and door decorations.
Nygala focuses on its Flomo brand, at the company website FlomoUSA.com. The company has been online since 1999, but ecommerce functionality was only added in 2009. Still, after just two years, the Internet has been crucial to Flomo's business, according to a Nygala source, and it continues to grow by 50 to 75 percent annually. That success is built around service. "When it comes to our website, we try to be as user-friendly as possible, and like to keep our customers in the know of new trendy items, sales, special promotions and more," says a high level company executive. "Prospective customers can sign up for our mailing list on our website. We are also very active on social networks, to heighten brand awareness about our products to consumers and to keep our customers updated." The site features company news, a photo gallery, promotions, and constantly updated new products.
As wholesale suppliers can testify, the right combination of seasonal merchandise purchased through a buyer-friendly website gives retailers their best chance at growing their business during the holiday season. Moreover, as the economy begins to improve, the outlook is brightening for savvy sellers who seek seasonal success.
For more information:
King Craft Co.
Gary King, president
142 N. Main St.
PO Box 671
Herkimer, NY 13350
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Private Island Entertainment LLC
P.O. Box 756
Phillipsport, NY 12769
Toll Free: 877-272-0215
Gift Bliss Enterprises
19269 Mallory Canyon Road, Building D
Salinas, CA 93907
2600 S. Soto St.
Los Angeles, CA 90058
Toll Free: 877-500-9994
P.O. Box 20
176 Broad St.
Windsor, CT 06095
Wholesale inquiries: Eric Nelson Norgard at 800-338-2508 x106
Koehler Home Decor
205 SE Spokane St., Ste. 300
Portland, OR 97202-6487
698 US Highway 46 West
Teterboro, NJ 07608
Toll Free: 800-445-5936
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