While good salesmanship and dedication are essential ingredients to success with kiosks and carts, selecting the right product is critical to attracting attention and making sales. Within the huge variety of product and product category choices, two factors can improve the odds: One is to offer a new twist on an already popular product, such as fashion jewelry, and sell it at a price that makes it easy to buy on impulse; the other is to provide products that are personalized.
Sky Gift has a program that fits the first category. The company, which is based in Las Vegas and has had products in malls for nearly 16 years, recently introduced Murano glass style jewelry. "Of all the products we've provided for kiosks over the years, this is the best performer ever," says Fernando Huerta, Sky Gift's owner.
The line includes nearly 350 different styles of pendants, earrings and rings, all made of the molten like glass that is associated with the famous city of Murano in Italy. Each piece is designed to sell for the same price: $5.99. There is even a set that includes a pendant and matching earrings which wholesales for $1, and sells for $5.99.
"That is the magic price point that makes it easy, especially in this economy, for people to pick up a new piece of jewelry and feel good about the purchase," Huerta says. The items in the line typically wholesale for between $1.15 and $1.50. So, while the retail price ensures volume, the wholesale cost assures the vendor of a substantial mark up.
Huerta says he is currently supplying Murano style glass jewelry to 15 kiosk and cart vendors and has agreements to supply five more by the end of the year. "It is the number one cart program in many malls, and mall managers want it in their malls," he says. He also reports that a kiosk vendor carrying the line can make between $12,000 and a whopping $50,000 a month, depending on the location and the vendor's attention to display and sales. Furthermore, he says, it is not a seasonal product. "It actually does best in the summer months," he says, "because people don't have jackets at their necks and can readily try on a pendant."
Sky Gift suggests a minimum order of 1,000 pieces to start a kiosk program, and will put together a package that wholesales for $1,150. "The vendors can choose the designs, or we will make a selection for them," says Huerta, noting that he has sales data to guide vendors to bestsellers.
Reorders are shipped the day they are placed. Vendors can register on the company's website, which gives them access to wholesale prices. They can place orders online, and a Sky Gift staff member will call to confirm.
"Based on our experience, we will teach a vendor exactly how to set up and display," says Huerta. "We always recommend a lot of necklaces. We will also send them photos of other carts to help them with display, and we suggest the pieces be placed against dark painted wood, readily available at a Home Depot or other local home goods store."
Kiosks featuring only Murano style glass jewelry do best, according to Huerta. "When it is displayed with other products or other types of jewelry, it confuses the customer and loses impact," he notes.
The only other materials a kiosk vendor needs are a tray or basket, so customers can sort out items that interest them, while they try on more, then make comparisons, and of course, a couple of mirrors.
Sky Gift will email vendors graphic material for two different signs. One says "Murano Glass Style," and the other says, "Everything $5.99." The vendor can take the emailed art to Kinkos or another copy shop and have several of these signs made up in large sizes, Huerta explains.
While the key to success with Murano style glass jewelry is impulse buying, another supplier, PhotoThrow, based in Garfield, NJ, banks on stopping people in their tracks with personalization.
At the heart of PhotoThrow's line of personalized products is a knitted blanket, or throw. It carries a replication of a photograph that is knitted into (not printed on) the soft cotton knitted fabric. "We've been doing this since 1999," says Andy Concilio, a partner, "and the blanket had its genesis in the sweater industry."
Concilio surrounds this unique personalized product offering with several different personalized products to give kiosk vendors a range of personalized product options and price points. The others are a mouse pad, mug, ornamental jewelry, balloons, T-shirts, barbeque aprons and puzzles, "Anything that carries a photo," he says.
"While these give kiosks a wider range of price points, they also provide promotional opportunities," he points out. "A kiosk can offer one of these less expensive items as a gift with purchase on the sale of a throw, for example," he says. "Or, the vendor can raise the total ticket by offering a discount on a second product."
A kiosk or cart can get into this business with a package that costs just $399. "The most advantageous aspect of this program is that there is no inventory for the vendor to buy, and the retail customer has to come back to the kiosk," Concilio points out.
The $399 package provides the kiosk vendor with samples of eight different personalized PhotoThrow products. The package typically includes one color and one black and white knitted photo throw, a mug, a mouse pad, a personalized jewelry piece, "And we will adjust the package to include items a particular vendor wants and that meet the needs of the market," says Concilio.
"For example, if the kiosk is near a military base, we'll include photo products geared to the military. We always include a pet photo on a product, because pet photos are our number one business for the throws," he reports.
The starter package also includes two 11 x 17 inch posters that show samples of the products and describe the knitting process. Also included is a quantity of trifold brochures which show products and also carry the identity of the kiosk vendor and the suggested retail prices, if the vendor wants. The vendor can give them to prospects who go home to find a photo and also pass the vendor's information on to family members and friends.
Throws and blankets are top of the line. They are made of cotton and machine washable and dryable, and Concilio assures, "The image is sharp and it won't bleed or run." They are offered in color or in black and white and in four sizes: 30 x 40 inches, 40 x 60, 54 x 70, and 60 x 90. The latter is sized to serve as a bed cover for a queen size bed.
While it is not essential that the vendor have a computer in the kiosk, "it's highly recommended," Concilio says. "We set up an online portal and the vendor can then upload the customer's image to us online. They can tell us if there's text and spell that out. We immediately assign the photo and text to our graphic arts department, which develops specifications that are then transferred electronically to our knitting machines.
"The process takes just a few hours. Of orders that are submitted to us by noon Eastern time, 99 percent are shipped out the same day, or the following day at the latest." While PhotoThrow will ship the order direct to the customer, Concilio recommends that it be shipped to the kiosk vendor so the customer has to come back and pick it up.
Vendors that don't have a computer in the kiosk can send photos by snail mail. But the process is slower, and the lack of immediate gratification can dampen sales. In addition, the customer has to relinquish the photo until PhotoThrow returns it along with the knitted product.
In general, customers that visit a kiosk for the first time, go home to get the photo they want to be transferred into a throw or have placed on another product. However, Concilio also recommends that the kiosk vendor have a digital camera, so he or she can take a customer's photo on the spot. This is particularly appealing to tourists, for example.
The best seller is a 40 by 60 inch black and white blanket. It wholesales for $37, and the suggested retail price ranges from $75 to $100. A color photo blanket of the same size wholesales for $49. Mugs wholesale for $6; mouse pads wholesale for $5, and all of the photo products generally retail for double the wholesale cost.
"We're always adding new products," Concilio says. The newest addition is even more personal. It's the, "Talking Throw," which the company has patented and is exclusive to PhotoThrow. It is a knitted photo blanket that contains a sound module, which is removable when the blanket needs washing and can be replaced afterward.
"The customer can record a message, or sing a song or lullaby," Concilio explains. "It's particularly popular for graduations and anniversary gift blankets," he says. The wholesale cost is the same as for a regular photo blanket or throw of the same size, "and the vendor can retail it for much more," he notes, "adding significantly to profit."
The following companies were interviewed for this article:
Andy Concilio, partner
141 Lanza Avenue Bldg. 3A
Garfield, NJ 07026
Toll Free: 800-524-0914
Fernando Huerta, owner
4280 West Reno Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89118
Toll Free: 888-977-4648
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