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Building Brands At Kiosks

Sep 1, 2009

Just like any retailer, a kiosk or cart vendor that turns their business into a brand, increases the odds of succeeding and even expanding. This has been proven by kiosks selling spa products, unique jewelry and other products, especially those that can be personalized, such as the flip flops, bags and other accessories made by Rhinestone Ruby, a supplier headquartered in New York City.

Perhaps no one is more knowledgeable about brand building via kiosks and carts than Creations Global Retail, a Dallas based company founded in 1964, primarily to provide fixtures for retailers. In 1993, it entered the kiosk market by building kiosks and carts for a wide array of clients. Among them are mall owners and developers, manufacturers and suppliers of various products, individual merchants and entrepreneurs devoted to creating successful kiosk and cart operations. All of this company's kiosks are custom designed, and it also operates a sister company, Creations Asia, which offers standard kiosk designs that consist of modules. Vendors can use just one module or component and add more later, or customize a configuration of two or more modules.

Of the totally custom design/build service, Alexander Goldfarb, Creations Global Retail's director of sales, says, "We tailor the design based on our client's needs. We also take into consideration the restrictions of place. Many malls, for example, have regulations regarding site line, materials, signage and other factors," he explains. "Airports have another set of restrictions, such as fire ratings and so on. These limits and rules are combined with the needs of the vendor and the product," he points out. Creations Global Retail is a turnkey supplier of custom kiosks.

"We begin with conversations about the budget and the products," says Goldfarb. "These take place prior to a concept design, and take into account these details and the amount of space between shelves, colors, the ability to demonstrate product and so forth. We like to obtain small color swatches of the product, so we can incorporate that into the units, so the kiosk and the products and packaging tie into one another. Often we also ask the client to send us samples of the merchandise. Once these conversations have taken place, we provide conceptual designs, which include a sketch and 3D renderings. Upon client approval, we do the engineering; develop all specifications," he says. That is followed by actual fabrication of the units and culminates with shipping and installation. Creations Global Retail sends staff to install the final kiosk.

A wide variety of materials are used, because the units are designed to meet the client's budget. In some cases, Creations Global Retail has developed arrangements to provide financing. Some units have included plasma TV screens and video footage of merchandise in use. "A majority of the kiosks are on casters, so they can be moved," Goldfarb says. Since entering the kiosk market, the company has created hundreds of kiosks, Goldfarb reports. "Initially most of our clients were on the developer side," he says, "but over the past two years, there has been a little shift to more individual people. It's a good time for entrepreneurs to get into the kiosk business," he notes. "There are incredible deals on rents. Equally important, it's easy to find qualified and experienced retail employees who are eager to be entrepreneurs themselves."

In kiosk design, there has also been a shift, according to Goldfarb. "They are getting away from the 10 by 10 square or from a simple rectangle," he says. "The trick is to dress it up enough to make it an eye catcher in a mall environment." He calls it the, "bobble head approach. The challenge and the fun part is to really create a retail environment that sells." A year ago, a prospective client wanted to develop a kiosk to sell gelato and coffee. "He wanted a rich, cafe-esque kiosk that would stand out, and he also required a lot of equipment," Goldfarb says. He sent some samples of the equipment and specs for other, large pieces. The result is a circular café that accommodates self contained sinks that can be rolled into the unit. "We built a shroud around the sinks," he explains, "and we incorporated dig outs into which the equipment could be dropped." Now that the concept has been turned into reality and is succeeding, the original client is seeking to roll out the concept at many malls.

At the high end of the company's custom creations is a 10 by 18 foot enclosed kiosk developed for Time Warner in Manhattan, which rents it to retail tenants. "It's an obelisk shape of metal and stainless steel, with areas of high grade, high gloss wood veneer, granite countertops and an electronic roll down shutter," Goldfarb says.

Component units from Creations Asia are also designed by the same Dallas based design team. "There are about five different designs that work like a Lego system," he explains. "They don't have to be used as a rectangle. Two used in a L shape is popular now," he says. The company has developed a Creations Asia catalog, showing the different designs. It also shows the various configurations that are possible with multiple components. "All clients of both companies have the same quality service," Goldfarb says. All are served by staff at the Dallas headquarters.

Six years ago, Lisa Kozinn, owner of Rhinestone Ruby, developed a system of attaching letters, words and themed charms to fashion accessories. There are now more than 250 different charms, and among the accessories are flip flops, several styles of bags, hats, visors, bracelets, pendants and pet accessories such as leashes and collars. "The more bling the better," says Kozinn. The bling combines with personalization to make these a winner in kiosks, because they are eye catching and consumers can tailor their own product on the spot into an accessory that is personal and highly individual. Furthermore, she says, " The customer can walk off with a personalized item or gift for under $24."

Flip flops from the company wholesale for $7.50 and have a suggested retail of $15. Letters and charms wholesale for $1 or a little more depending on the design, and they retail for $3 to $3.50. "The typical total retail sales ticket is $25 to $30," she reports. Flip flops come in all sizes. There's a lined make-up bag with compartments that is about seven by three by two inches and has a lipstick dangle. A 10 by 11 messenger bag has a dangling heart charm for starters. Baseball caps come in a choice of three colors. There are also sequined bags, including a make-up style and a wristlet that can carry a cell phone.

The letter charms come in clear and pink, and many of the themed charms are in colors. They encompass sports themes, hobby references, animals, special occasions, cute sayings and other attention getting images with appeal. "They can be mixed and matched on accessories in a wide variety of configurations," Kozinn explains. "The best part is that the customer can dictate the configuration of charms and see the final product being made." She recommends that vendors wear something of Rhinestone Ruby, all the while they are selling. After a conversation with a prospective kiosk vendor, she will develop an assortment that sells best in that vendor's area, and also supply a planogram.

"Someone can begin with an investment of as little as $500 to $700," she says, adding, "the larger the assortment, the better the return. Ideally, an investment of $2,500 to $3,000 attracts the most attention and offers customers the greatest variety of personalized accessories." Rhinestone Ruby also provides signs that show different mix and match decorated flip flops, and also stress the personalization aspect of the products. Displayers are also available. A 15 by nine inch acrylic box shows charms and keeps them organized in 36 compartments. "The unit is compact, while showing the variety, and is designed to accommodate stacking," she says. "A vendor can build stacks of multiple trays to show an increased availability of charms. We also have display racks available. Because there are so many different products," she notes, "the line sells well year round." While many of her kiosk vendors sell only Rhinestone Ruby products, Kozinn says, "I have no problem with a kiosk also containing products from others."

Sunglasses, for instance, complement Rhinestone Ruby flip flops in summer and warm climates. Other pet accessories complement the Rhinestone Ruby pet accessories. It is, however, important that the vendor have the time and space to demonstrate the versatility of Rhinestone Ruby designs and take the time to personalize items to each customer's wishes. Flip flops and hats are the current best sellers. The bags and jewelry are newer, but are off to a great start, she reports. "We continue to come out with new products," she adds, "so vendors can keep displays and assortments fresh and keep customers coming back."

While the primary target market is tweens to 25 and 30 year olds, Kozinn says, "There are customers from two year olds to grandmothers. Also a lot of school teams use them for fund raising, and they make excellent bridesmaid gifts. We're always eager to give vendors promotional ideas," she adds, and estimates that in a month, a vendor can get a return of two to three times the investment. There is a $90 reorder minimum, and the company ships within 24 to 48 hours.

The following were interviewed for this article:

Alexander Goldfarb, director of sales
Creations Global Retail
12750 Perimeter Drive Bldg. 120
Dallas, TX 75228
Toll Free: 800-421-4171
Tel.: 972-686-7836
Fax: 972-686-7589

Lisa Kozinn, owner
Rhinestone Ruby Personalized Accessories
35 East 21st Street 10th Floor
New York, NY 10010
Tel.: 212-290-7699
Fax: 212-290-8514

Topic: Kiosk Korner

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Article ID: 1154

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