Grace King is a wholesaler with a mission. "I started my company in 2007, when the price of oil was getting high. I wanted to promote solar and alternative energy products, and thought if I could sell small products that people could hold in their hands, then they would see how well alternative energy can work." Through her company, Solarrific, King sells a wide range of solar powered and muscle powered merchandise. "I sell radios, outdoor lights, emergency items, and garden products that use alternative energy such as solar energy, and hand cranks using dynamo technology," she says. "The products are good for everybody. We sell to gift shops, Internet retailers, hardware stores, and nurseries. Our products apply to many different fields."
King's enthusiasm and drive come through when she describes the source of her inspiration. "We definitely need to increase the awareness of alternative energy availability. That's why I started Solarrific," she says. "I travel pretty frequently internationally, and I've seen how other countries are using solar and alternative energy. Meanwhile, we're just starting. We still have to catch up here in the United States."
King has been in the manufacturing industry for almost 20 years. "I've been in the business since 1992," she says. "I made custom products for manufacturers in many industries." That experience has given her the perspective to see how products have trended over the long haul. And she says that the times are right for products like hers, because consumer familiarity and acceptance is growing. "At the beginning, people didn't know what things were. When I started at retail shows, it would take forever to explain how the product worked," she recalls. "Now people just get it. They know it now. It was a matter of education." As part of that education strategy, Solarrific has an affiliate program designed to help early adopters spread the word. The program gives an incentive to bloggers who refer customers to the company. "For bloggers, if they want to talk about our products, they can have a link to our websites, and we give them a five percent commission as affiliates," King explains. "They feature articles with our link, and whenever a shopper clicks that link and purchases something, it gives the blogger a commission." A Google search of the blogosphere turns up over 575 blog mentions of the company. Mosquitoinsectrepellent.com writes about a solar bug zapper, the-gadgeteer.com profiles a solar portable power supply, and LEDflashlightreviews.net links to a video of a dynamo flashlight.
Another part of that education strategy is the clever use of social media. "We use Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook," says King. "Twitter and Facebook let us send updated information to customers." On Twitter, King communicates directly with customers, bloggers, and industry professionals. She tweets about product news, interesting videos, and green tech trends in general. "When we have new product out, we'll Twitter about it," she says. "I think Twitter is actually pretty convenient for short messages. If customers are interested, they can either click a link or go on our website." Those video links go to the company's YouTube channel, where 20 Solarrific videos offer real life demos of hot products. Adding a personal touch, King herself demonstrates products, chats with an interviewer, and introduces her dog, "BB," a cute canine that is also the company mascot, accompanying King everywhere.
On Facebook, Solarrific offers 45 high resolution photos, a trade show calendar, videos, and highlights of new and interesting products. Products recently featured include a Solar Rechargeable Battery Charger, a Solar Rainbow Bubble Stick Light, and a Solar Water Fountain Kit. King highlights the way one crafty customer used the fountain product to create a beautiful water feature in a garden. The company's educational mission carries over to the company website. "Our website is really the best way to see new products and new information," she says.
However, King is careful to emphasize that although she wants consumers to learn and get excited about solar and hand powered items, Solarrific is a wholesale-oriented supplier, only taking B-to-C trade when a customer cannot get to one of her retail customers. "We do not promote as retailers," she says clearly. "We sell retail as a service if people have no store close to them. We're mostly a wholesaler. Our products online show the highest prices. Once you log in and are activated, the wholesale prices are visible." That registration is a key component in the service she offers volume buyers. She adds that as far as pricing goes, sellers can expect to charge at retail about double what they pay wholesale.
Solarrific distinguishes between wholesale and retail business by asking business customers to provide the right paperwork. "We need to manually activate those customers who give us tax forms," says King. "Our online site really is designed to facilitate retailers buying at wholesale prices." One way the company does that is with a store locator, which lets consumers find retail venues that carry Solarrific products. The company has one warehouse located in New York, and all product is held there, as the company does not have a dropship option.
For customers who prefer ways of ordering other than the Internet, Solarrific is flexible. "Of course, customers can email or fax us orders," she says. New customers can start with an order as small as $100, just to try the product. Solarrific offers free shipping for orders at a minimum level of $400, and discounts for high volume sales are available. King says that although the recession has been a challenge, sales are trending up. "Business now is picking up a little bit," she says, "definitely this year, especially the latter part of it."
For more information:
P.O. Box 570489 / 158-123 Powells Cove Blvd.
Whitestone, NY 11357
Toll Free: 866-676-5277
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