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Taking Kiosks Personally

Nov 1, 2008

Yes, personalized products are a hit with consumers, and putting a customer's name and message on an item on the spot helps draw crowds to a kiosk or cart and build sales. Ornament Central, which supplies 120 different ornaments designed by owner, Christine Casey, along with a personalization packet (pens included), has proven the point.

The company has been supplying kiosks and carts for the past five years. Over that time it has established a wealth of ideas for grabbing customers' attention and also developed a following of customers who collect these highly detailed ornaments; and not just at Christmas.

But personalized products are just one way a kiosk and cart can make a name for itself. Pur Element Cosmetics, which offers 10 different mineral based products, each in a wide range of colors, is offering kiosk and cart operators a private label option, automatically making them the vendor of a truly exclusive cosmetics line.

The Pur Element line includes shimmer powder, face and body powder, mineral face powder, mineral blush, foundation, liquid liner and clear lipstick, along with an assortment of brushes. Laura Ancheta, owner, suggests that a vendor needs $3,000 worth of product to get started successfully, along with $400 for the company's merchandising and display materials.

"This is not a strict requirement, and this is not a franchise," she says. The Los Angeles based company will create a logo for a kiosk vendor and supply labels with the logo and new name.

The cost is the same, whether it's labeled Pur Element or customized with the vendor's own label. "We encourage private label," Ancheta says, "because the vendor is more invested in the program." Successfully selling the line does not require a trained make up artist, she insists. "The most important ingredient to success is the vendor's ability to portray the benefits of the product information to the customer."

The Pur Element staff will help vendors select an appropriate mix of products for the opening order. "The best selling colors of foundation, for example, are different among different demographics," she points out.

The minimal opening order includes one full set of free powder testers and brushes. An opening order of $5,000 includes two full sets of powder testers and brushes, one for each side of a kiosk. "This will be enough to cover the first couple of weeks of business," says Ancheta.

"Absolutely, the vendor does best by demonstrating," she adds. "It not only sells more product, but it also attracts more attention and more business. Our vendors get a lot of referrals."

The $400 merchandising package includes a shimmer carousel display that holds 40 units, a mineral foundation carousel display that holds 12 colors, a blush/bronzer carousel that holds six of each, four 20 piece powder tester trays and two six piece foundation tester trays. The vendor can chose eight or 12 colors.

There are also two, three piece blush and bronzer tester trays each, along with posters showing the results of the applied cosmetics. The package also includes brochures to hand out for referrals. "We are always available to help with the set up," Ancheta promises, "and we can fulfill refill orders quickly."

On orders of 25 units, the wholesale cost of shimmer powder is $2, and it falls to $1.50 on orders of 100 or more. The most expensive item in the line is mineral face powder, which on orders of 25 units, wholesales at $6.50. It is reduced to $5.50 on orders of 100 units or more. Brushes typically wholesale for between $1.50 and $2.75, with the largest, the Kabuki brush, wholesaling for $5.

Mark up varies, depending on the product, but Ancheta says it ranges between 60 and 80 percent. She says vendors can take in up to $1,300 and $1,400 a day. "This has proven to do well year round," she adds, "and vendors get a lot of repeat business."

Not Just for Holidays
The innovative ornament designs offered by Ornament Central are, in and of themselves, personal to many people. They include lawyers, football players, dancers, skiers and others with references to people's hobbies, interests and professions.

Casey says among the more popular designs is a guy in a recliner who is holding a remote. "Marked with the person's name and, 'retired'," it's a top seller," she reports.

Although it's not a requirement, Casey says an investment of $4,000 has proven to work well for kiosk vendors. "That encompasses approximately 1,000 ornaments, including all the best sellers. It comes with a personalization packet that includes two pens that she says have proven to work best, and a brochure of ideas for personalization, which is also available on a CD.

While individual wholesale prices vary, she says the cost, on average, is about $3.75. "We're a little more expensive than some, but our ornaments are highly detailed and unique. We suggest retailers price them at at least three times wholesale. We have established some customer loyalty that has made collectors who look for Ornament Central year after year."

The company does not sell retail, but it hosts a website showing all of the designs. "We refer web visitors to our kiosk vendors and we pass consumer leads along to our vendors," she says.

The company gives beginning vendors a quantity of discontinued designs, "to practice on," says Casey. "When a vendor becomes rushed, he or she needs to become fast at personalizing and also be confident in coming up with winning ideas."

She urges kiosk vendors to display as many samples as possible. "If, for example, a grandmother has nine grandchildren and can find a personalized ornament for each one, she'll buy nine different designs. If she can only find ones that are suitable for two, she may go somewhere else," Casey points out.

These grandmothers and others often become collectors. "We also recommend that the vendors put a message on the ornaments with invisible tape, so they can add something like 'retired' to the recliner unit on display. They can then remove the tape and sell the ornament. The more the ornaments are shown personalized rather than plain, the better they sell."

Among the all time best sellers are, of course, baby's first Christmas and family oriented designs. New ornament designs for the army, navy, air force and marines, shown in camouflage, are especially popular. A unit with a driver's license for someone coming of driving age is also popular, as are brides and grooms.

Casey says sales are not limited to the holiday season. "After fourth quarter, many of our vendors turn to feature other products, such as sunglasses. However, they keep a selection of Ornament Central designs, such as ones related to graduations, weddings, other holidays and celebrations and to locations, such as the beach or mountains."

The minimum order is $250, and there is a minimum quantity, such as a half dozen, on some designs such as ethnic ones. "We try for a 24 hour turnaround on orders," Casey says, "and we encourage vendors to place orders over the Internet."

Ornament Central has a selection of displayers, some of which may fit into a kiosk or cart setting. They are usually offered with a product offset that gives the vendor a quantity of additional free ornaments. Best seller packages are available, and Casey and her staff provide assistance in tailoring an order to a particular geographic location, target audience and general theme.

The following were interviewed for this article:

Christine Casey, owner
Ornament Central LLC
213 School Street Ste. 107
Gardner, MA 01440
Toll Free: 888-662-8831
Tel.: 978-630-1808
Fax: 978-630-1809

Laura Ancheta, owner
Pur Element Cosmetics
238 Rosemont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tel.: 213-353-4835
Toll Free Fax: 866-249-6112

Topic: Kiosk Korner

Related Articles: kiosk 

Article ID: 817

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