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Mar 1, 2009
by Judi Perkins
Hollis began SalesOne from scratch in 2000 by developing their first line, Body Vibe. "We grew very fast," he said. "Within a couple years we had most of the chain stores and independents in the country. We became vertically integrated very quickly, because when the body jewelry business exploded into retail, everybody jumped on the bandwagon, and the industry changed fast."
When the mix changed, many suppliers disappeared, because they did not have the financial power to carry the inventory, "whereas we have always been very serious about staying in this category. That means investing in it, stocking it and building it," said Hollis. SalesOne has over 10,000 body jewelry sku's, and yet they turn around most orders within the next day. Hollis said they ship some "heavy" inventory, and he doesn't know any other company in the industry that stocks the kind of inventory they do. Consequently, SalesOne has a 90 percent fill rate, which is nothing short of incredible. "It keeps the customer coming back, and that is a really good feeling," said Hollis.
His goal has always been to be a one-stop shop for body jewelry, so that retailers do not have to shop around, which is why they have such a wide selection of body jewelry products, and also carry tools for the piercing trade. "A quarter of our revenues are from the tattoo and piercing shops," Hollis said. "The orders are smaller, but I love the buyers. It gets you closer to the art, and you get feedback as well."
SalesOne, www.SalesOne.org, is the portal for both Body Vibe, the body jewelry line, and Inox, their growing stainless steel line of traditional jewelry. It is also the portal for several individual aspects of Body Vibe, including Wild Tribe, Penthouse, and First Pierce. "Body jewelry will continue to see growth, because it is not a fad," said Hollis. "It is not even a trend anymore. It is a category." For that reason, he said they will continue to introduce new body jewelry designs every week. "It is very much a new style business, yet there are always the core products. Because we also make needles and piercing products, we know if the rate of piercings is staying up to speed. And it is, I'm happy to report."
The company's two primary goals for 2009 are branding their Inox line of stainless steel jewelry and dramatically increasing online sales. The Inox website, www.Inox-US.com, has been up two years. Said Hollis, "Body jewelry is stainless steel, so I knew about the stainless steel ability to make jewelry long ago. Then I saw the first stainless steel bracelets being sold. The Mexico and the Latin American markets really love stainless steel." He also saw a lot of it on his trips overseas. "Factories were starting to push it at the trade shows. It is something that I felt, just like body jewelry. I realized that if we did not jump on it with a brand philosophy, we might miss the train."
Hollis sees stainless steel as a product group on its way up, "ahead of the curve, and traveling toward the peak." SalesOne plans to establish Inox as long term, and is investing heavily in creating styles and building inventory, much like they did with body jewelry. To Hollis, this also means being poised to both supply and support their customers. "We are being extremely aggressive on all fronts," said Hollis. "We have invested in floor stand fixtures that are branded, custom displays. They are back lit, and feel more like something in a department store. Our goal is to develop a long term partnership with our retailers."
Hollis plans on taking Inox from 15 percent of SalesOne's revenue to 30 percent, through both online and offline sales. It is still early in the product lifecycle, and there are ample opportunities for retailers. Hollis feels that anyone who sells jewelry is an ideal candidate for the Inox line, especially if they carry higher end jewelry. This means not just jewelry stores, but also high end apparel stores that carry jewelry as an accessory.
"If they are selling sterling silver, stainless steel is a great fit. It is an alternative metal that has a great price, long lasting quality, does not tarnish, and is not as expensive." Any jewelry store looking for a moderate price point and a quality item will find this an ideal product to add to their mix, because of its widespread appeal, he said, adding, "It has been primarily a men's market, and now it is turning toward women. In Europe and Mexico, many women are wearing it. We will be introducing quite a few women's designs." Additionally, Hollis noted, the demographics for Inox start at 18, but continue all the way up to 35 to 45 years old.
What makes Inox unique compared to other stainless steel products is the way in which the designs are created. Stainless steel jewelry is typically made by cutting, but Inox's products are made by casting, which allows for designs in multiple dimensions, rather than simple patterns. Casting has only become possible within the last several years. It is a hot and difficult process that Hollis said very few people have the equipment to do because of the cost. He points out SalesOne has always worked with stainless steel. "We were marketing stainless steel castings for ear jewelry before anyone else. We have been doing stainless steel rings for five years." Carrying the Inox line enables retailers to not only provide their customers with a leading edge product, but also one with designs unique to the market.
SalesOne is also putting considerable emphasis on developing their ecommerce sales. Said Hollis, "For 2009, the web is very important to us. A big goal is to increase the amount of the business done on the web, because people can shop at their own convenience." He is starting by overhauling BodyVibe.com, up since 2003. "We are changing the entire look, the feel, the features, ordering process, and especially its operational effectiveness," said Hollis. "It will be at least ten times faster. The whole idea is to make it speedy, easy and more ergonomic."
Joining WholesaleCentral.com has also contributed to his decision to amp up the ecommerce platform. Said Hollis, "The closing ratio of an interested WholesaleCentral lead is much higher than that of someone who just happened upon our website. We receive more leads from WholesaleCentral than we do from anywhere else. The quality of buyers has been great. It almost always ends up becoming a purchase."
Perhaps the new feature that will most facilitate the ease of online ordering is the merchandiser tool. Once the retailer has stipulated how much they want to spend and in what categories, the merchandiser automatically provides the best selling products, "We know what the hot products are for the different categories," said Hollis. "If you have a thousand dollars to spend, the program will break it out over the correct percentages. Our sales reps have been doing this for years, but providing it online makes it even easier for our customers to order online and still benefit from our expertise."
There are also Value Packs, volume deals within the same category. Explained Hollis, "For example, 200 UV ear plugs at ridiculous prices. You get a variety of plugs, and you get them cheap. We have at least 100 value packs up and we will be adding more." With 10,000 sku's on their site, what if a customer finds a less expensive price elsewhere? Easy. SalesOne will match it. A note with the order triggers a physical review. "With 10,000 items we do not always know if somebody has it at a better price," said Hollis. "Since our objective is to continue to do business with that customer, we want to know about those kinds of issues."
Inox-US.com will have a downloadable PDF of overstock/closeout items updated every week. Fun features on both sites will be an interactive blog for people to share information, and an RSS feed for generating news about the business, things that are going on, or, "maybe a popular video from YouTube," said Hollis. On BodyVibe.com, there will be a place where people can post pictures of their piercings.
The recurring theme is that SalesOne provides for their customers. It comes up again in their decision to eliminate minimum orders. "We let a lot of our requirements go. Now they can buy one piece if they want to," said Hollis. "We also run an ala carte package system, so if somebody wants a particular type of packaging, we will do it. Even for many of the mom and pops who only have two or three stores, we will package and bar code it for them. We do that level of customization, because that is what keeps us together."
To SalesOne, it is all about the relationship, which is why knowing the goals of their customers is so critical. "We want to be instrumental in helping them achieve those goals, whether it is growing their business or starting from scratch. Our guys have great knowledge. They can merchandise somebody's order really nicely, and give them the right selection to be successful," said Hollis. "We focus our energy on working with existing customers and building their business. I do not like bringing in new customers, doing business and having them be gone tomorrow."
To further ensure the success of their customers, SalesOne provides training materials for both the lines. "We want to provide them with what they need in order to sell, because it is always a good idea for people to know what they are selling." The educational pieces on body jewelry include what the different pieces are and where they are worn. "We also provide information on the different materials. And all our products comply with the regulations. We are both lead and nickel free," Hollis said.
Additional benefits for their customers seem endless. For those who sell online, SalesOne provides the images. They offer incentives for placing orders online and give multiple discounts for quantity online ordering. They provide private labeling. A customer can create one order, and have it delivered to multiple locations, no matter how numerous, for no extra charge. There will also be a bi-monthly newsletter featuring different wholesale buyer benefits, such as a hot sellers report, a new-in-stock sheet and special offers. "Our goal is to create products, concepts and ideas to keep others moving ahead. We are a funky jewelry manufacturer; a niche company. We do not make costume jewelry for the masses. We focus on two things: body jewelry and stainless steel jewelry. Our philosophy is to make our retailers successful, and in turn be successful ourselves," said Hollis.
To Hollis, it has always been about the customer. "People ask me what our revenue is, but I've never been about the numbers, although we need them in order to maintain our business. We are definitely one of the leading players in this industry, but our focus is on the customer." No doubt that is one of the many reasons why both the customer base and the numbers for SalesOne will continue to grow. Minimum Order: None
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Topic: Wholesaler of the Month
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