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Wholesalers Ease Web Buying

Jun 1, 2008

Retailers and other buyers who go online to research and obtain products are finding it easier to navigate wholesalers' websites. Many Internet wholesalers have not only streamlined the process of finding appropriate product, but also have enhanced product photos and descriptions. These are just some of the advances Internet wholesalers have incorporated into their websites. At Kole Imports' website, www.koleimports.com, buyers get instant access to the best seller in the category they are shopping for. Rob Kole, president of this leading wholesale company based in Carson, CA, says, "We have worked to design our website to tell people what we would tell them if we were actually talking to them. We share our knowledge."

If, for instance, a buyer clicks on tools, then on screwdrivers, the website will display approximately 30 different screwdriver units, and they will be ranked in their best selling order. The top seller in the category will top the list.

The ability to sort items by how fast they sell is not the only way www.koleimports.com talks to its buyers. "A returning buyer can easily input or find out when they last placed an order with us," Kole says. "They will then automatically see what they've missed since their last visit."

Furthermore, the website is constructed so that it will not let a buyer place an order for any product that is no longer available. This calls for constant updating of the site, on which new products arrive constantly.

Keeping websites current is a challenge to all wholesalers. "Because new merchandise arrives so frequently and items also sell out so quickly, we ask buyers to use our website to check out product and then call in their orders," says Saja Stark, sales manager at Discount Wholesalers Inc., based in Chester Springs, PA.

Discount Wholesalers has added many more details and photos to www.discountwholesalersinc.com, Stark reports. "We specialize in exceedingly clean shelf pulls," she says, "and we show photos in detail to take the guesswork out of buying." The company sells by the pallet or trailer load, but the explicit product detail applies even to mixed pallets, Stark explains. "We supply mixed pallets to enable a buyer to fill a lot of shelves in a lot of different aisles with a single order."

A typical mixed pallet of health and beauty aids from the company could include shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and other subcategories within the overall HBA sector, she notes. In addition, while the minimum order for most of Discount Wholesalers' general merchandise, HBA and every day household items is a pallet, the minimum for cosmetics is 1,000 pieces.

"This is another way buyers can fill a lot of cosmetics needs with a single order," says Stark. Among the company's top selling items now are such everyday items as laundry detergent, insecticides and other basics that are consumable and in need of continual replenishment among homeowners.

Kole Imports has added a wide range of closeouts, Rob Kole reports. "We have become more involved in closeouts in order to continue to provide our buyers with good product at such low prices that they are able to resell them to consumers at low prices and still make a healthy profit," he says.

As with all products at Kole Imports, the closeouts merchandise is easy to access on the website. "Buyers can cut through categories and subcategories quickly to find exactly what they're looking for," he says.

In addition, Kole Imports posts specials on its website one or two times a week. "They are seasonal opportunities," Kole says, "and typically, they are available at special pricing for a 48 hour period."

The Kole Imports site also contains a wealth of business and merchandising tactics and advice. It is another way Kole says the site is designed to make Internet buying personal.

Package deals are a specialty of Four Seasons General Merchandise, a wholesale company based in Los Angeles. "We put together related items from our approximately 16 categories to help make sure our retailer buyers can make money," says Mahmoud Paridehpour, eCommerce manager.

Items are priced per piece on the company's website at www.4sgm.com, "Because buyers can reconfigure a package to suit their individual needs."

"They can mix and match items, and with a single click, the website will automatically tally up the total cost," according to Paridehpour. The minimum order requirement is $350. While the website currently only shows the wholesale cost, Paridehpour says his company plans to also add a, "commonly used retail price for each item," so the buyer can determine margin.

The website also provides detailed information on all products, "and we ship exactly the item that is shown on the website," he adds. Among the most popular current sellers at Four Seasons General Merchandise are licensed items, including stationery, bags and other items aimed primarily at teenagers, according to Paridehpour.

Like Kole Imports, Western Express Inc., based in Bridgeville, PA, has moved in a lot of closeouts, reports Dan Mottsman, CEO. This makes way for new products, he says.

The company, which specializes in Western theme oriented apparel, hats and products, has been on the web for more than 10 years. It added online ordering at www.westernexpressinc.com within the past year and a half. The website has been streamlined to stay more current and, "help buyers drill down to categories more quickly and easily," says Mottsman.

"Now that we are able to put things up quicker, we update the site daily," he adds. "Our products are economically priced and we have thousands of new products."

In addition, the site gets inquiries from consumers, Mottsman says. "We pass those consumer leads on to our retailer customers. We send leads to our retailer buyers every day."

Other wholesalers that specialize in particular niche markets are also streamlining their websites and adding enhancements for their retailer buyers. Grey Eagle Trader, based in Greenville, SC, specializes in knives, but also carries Native American goods and selected other items.

There are more than 3,000 items, according to Ron Messer, owner. "We add new items every week, and the website is updated on a daily basis," Messer says. "If it's on the site, it's available. We maintain the site ourselves, and out of stocks are automatically dropped from the website."

Within the past few months, www.greyeagletrader.com has been upgraded to add many new categories and make it easier for buyers to locate particular items. "If a buyer only has an idea of what a product is called, or even misspells the name of an item, it will show up," Messer says. "If any part of a name or part number is keyed in, the site will find the product for the customer." The website has also been redesigned to accommodate alternative payment options. All products are shown on the site. Retailers have to register to obtain the wholesale price, and registration is free. The minimum order of $50 applies only to a first time order. After that, there is no minimum. "We have a lot of small business customers, and they can replenish their sale of just one item or add a single different item," Messer explains.

In addition to low minimums and quick shipping, Grey Eagle Trader will drop ship orders. The cost of the convenience of drop shipping is just one dollar, regardless of the size of the order. "We ship anywhere in the world," Messer adds.

Mayday Industries Inc., based in Westminster, CA, specializes in a small, but rapidly growing niche: items geared to disaster preparedness. There are now 350 different products available on the website, reports John Tepel, owner. They are separated into Quake, Fire, Storm and Terror groupings, and there is also considerable overlapping. Among the products are first aid kits for boats, campers and pets, in addition to residences and businesses.

Other products range from stun guns and pepper sprays to lighting, communication devices, shelter and foldable stretchers. Retailers can buy directly from the company website at www.maydayindustries.com. However, Tepel says some of the company's distributors have developed point of sale programs. "We're happy to refer retailers to our distributors for these resources," he notes. To retailer buyers, a picture, along with a detailed description, can be worth more than 1,000 words. These Internet wholesalers take every step to ensure their retailer customers find their way to products that will mean money in the bank.

The following people at these companies were interviewed for this article:

Saja Stark, sales manager
Discount Wholesalers Inc.
1985 Ticonderoga Boulevard
Chester Springs, PA 19425
Tel.: 610-458-1131
Fax: 610-458-1190
Website: www.discountwholesalersinc.com

Mahmoud Paridehpour, ecommerce manager
Four Seasons General Merchandise
2801 East Vernon Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90058
Toll Free: 877-446-4746
Tel.: 323-582-4444
Fax: 323-582-9630
Website: www.4sgm.com

Ron Messer, owner
Grey Eagle Trader
319 Garlington Road, Ste. A4
Greenville, SC 29615
Tel.: 864-281-9914
Fax: 864-281-9915
Website: www.greyeagletrader.com

Rob Kole, president
Kole Imports Inc.
24600 Main Street
Carson, CA 90745
Toll Free: 800-874-7766
Tel.: 310-834-0004
Toll Free Fax: 800-292-1818
Fax: 310-834-0005
Website: www.koleimports.com

John Tepel, owner
Mayday Industries Inc.
15158 Golden West Circle
Westminster, CA 92683
Toll Free: 888-462-9329
Tel.: 714-893-5410
Fax: 714-893-5420
Website: www.maydayindustries.com

Dan Mottsman, CEO/owner
Western Express Inc.
300 Villani Drive
Bridgeville, PA 15017
Toll Free: 800-245-1380
Tel.: 412-257-5020
Fax: 412-257-5022
Website: www.westernexpressinc.com

Topic: Business Strategies

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Article ID: 658

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