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May 1, 2010
by Judi Perkins
Buying from Shopforbags.com is an excellent way for store owners to stay ahead of their competition, because the company carries sought-after, trendy items not found anywhere else. It is also a one-stop shop where retailers can outfit their customers with one purchase. The owner of Shopforbags.com, Katy Messersmith, began in 2002 as a retail eBayer, and when the opportunity presented itself, she invested in a website. But her eye for style quickly brought her wholesale requests, and by 2003 she began buying factory direct, dropped retail, and was differentiating herself by designing her own handbags. By 2005, when other handbag distributors were just beginning to appear online, Messersmith had already obtained regular customers, and to further meet their needs, she added accessories to the mix.
Now, Shopforbags.com carries over 1,700 items, from handbags to clothing, and accessories to footwear. About 75 percent of the handbags are designed by Messersmith. In 2007, she launched a clothing line called Katydid for men, women and children. Manufactured in the U.S., it is quickly becoming a widely recognized brand. CBS, Fox 4 News, Cosmo Girl, Daily Candy, and OK! magazine, among others, have all profiled the line. Part of the media attention comes from the shirts they do for national organizations. "For breast cancer awareness, we did a pink ribbon Katydid shirt that was a huge hit," said Messersmith, "And we are going to do one with a yellow ribbon to support the troops, which will be out for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July."
Shopforbags.com is a very clean, attractive, and easy-to-navigate site with a colorful homepage. Since new inventory arrives daily, products are updated and restocked on the home page every 24 to 48 hours. Creating an account is a straightforward process. "Buyers enter basic information, and after we verify that, they are good to go. We send them a welcome email that tells a little more about us, and invite them to start shopping," Messersmith said. There are 12 categories and nearly 50 subcategories, all accessible from the left navigation panel. The Katydid line is separated by category headings for women, men and children. The company also carries rhinestone apparel, which is custom designed and appliquéd as ordered.
Shopforbags.com began by selling to purse parties and eBayers. Through product diversification, the customer base has grown to about 65 percent brick and mortar shops, located in malls and shopping plazas. "We also sell to Christian book stores, because many of our items have crosses, and small sports stores, because of our sports themes," said Messersmith. "We have stores in all 50 states, including children's and men's stores." In addition to the demand for her unique, diverse product line, Messersmith attributes her growth to two factors. The first is WholesaleCentral.com, which Messersmith joined over five years ago. "I signed up when I just started my business, and it has had a very positive effect. It was the only place I advertised for a while."
The second factor is her constant outreach to buyers, through her newsletter, blog and Twitter feed. "Even with the economy as it has been, we are one of the few companies that have continued to grow." Access to both the blog and newsletter sign-up are on the top of the home page, while the Twitter icon is further down on the right. Both the blog and the newsletter feature articles about new arrivals and provide retail business information. "We discuss business ideas to help retailers grow, and we give them links to helpful articles. We are all about helping retailers maximize their potential."
Multiple coupons and specials are offered, and usually available only through the blog, newsletter, and Twitter. "We often offer free shipping, ten percent off, or something along those lines, but those specials are not posted on the website," said Messersmith. "Retailers need to sign up and follow us to receive these advantages." Other specials are standard, such as free shipping for first time buyers. "If they email us about their business and say they want to buy wholesale, we send them the code," she said. "And we always have free shipping over $350. The code for that, 35VD, is in our wholesale information."
The minimum is only $100, and while much of the apparel is sold in three-packs, everything else is sold by the piece. Messersmith said as long as the customer meets the $100 minimum and has a tax ID, they can buy anything on the site and see the profits quickly. "Most of our customers do the standard markup, and are easily able to turn over product." For new buyers with questions about the Katydid line, Shopforbags.com offers variety packages containing a mixture of styles, designs and colors. "We know what our top sellers are, so it is easy to ask questions and then point someone in the right direction. We pick and pull daily, so we know what is flying off the shelves."
Inventory is maintained in a 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Dallas, TX. Once a buyer makes the selection, items are shipped the same day or next day. If it is within normal business hours, emails are responded to within a matter of minutes. "We consistently receive strong feedback for customer service and shipping time," said Messersmith. To make it even easier for their customers, Shopforbags.com will soon be overhauling their entire system. Messersmith said, "The website will have a whole new look, and the backend will give the customer functions to help track their orders and other information. It will be more user-friendly, easier to order, and will have one-click checkout."
The company's goal, said Messersmith, is to see their customers succeed. "We deal with a lot of women-owned businesses. I am a woman-owned business, and started from the ground up. Even though we sell to men, I am all about giving back and empowering women, and letting them know that they can do this, too."
The minimum order is $100, and first time buyers receive free shipping with code WCFS1. Orders over $350 receive free shipping with code 35VD.
For more information:
P.O. Box 59645
Dallas, TX 75229
Topic: Company Profiles
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