Sales of electronics and accessories continue to soar, as more of the population adapts to an increasing number of devices in this category. In addition, the devices themselves continue to take on new capabilities and functions. For the savvy retailer who knows how to buy and merchandise electronics, profitability can spiral alongside brisk sales and rapid turnover.
One of the most profitable routes to reaping the rewards of these products is private label and unbranded merchandise. Nick Naylor, sales and marketing supervisor for iFox Technologies Inc., based in Virginia Beach, says the prices of his company's iFox brand products are typically half the price of the better known national brands, with no sacrifice to quality or functionality.
This gives retailers a competitive edge while also allowing stores to reach out to a broader base of consumers. "We go direct to factories, so we have no middle men, no branded pricing and no big marketing costs," Naylor explains. The company also maintains an office in Shen Zhen, China, for sourcing and to monitor production and assure product quality.
Among the popular products in the iFox lineup are MP3 players, MP4 players, Bluetooth headsets, webcams and other computer accessories and much more. Naylor says iFox is in the process of expanding the Bluetooth category.
In addition to providing its own iFox brand, the company will also provide retailers that meet certain minimums with their own private label product. This adds the advantage of exclusivity and makes comparison price shopping even more difficult for consumers.
It also gives retailers unique capabilities. For example, iFox offers promotional MP3 players that are preloaded with special selections for weddings, anniversaries, school and university gift shops and other innovative uses. In one case, the company created a wellness program on CD for a client to merchandise under its own label.
While iFox does not require a minimum order on its brand of items carried in stock, its staff will recommend an assortment of best sellers to beginning retailers, and the orders come with a guarantee. "If the retailer can't sell an item within 30 days, as long as it's unopened and in original condition, we'll give the retailer a refund," Naylor says. All of the products also carry a one year warranty against defects.
Not surprisingly, iFox focuses primarily on the most popular electronics.
However, Naylor says, "We're able to source any electronic product a retailer customer wants and offer it at an advantageous cost. That's because we have an established network of trustworthy suppliers and partners on the ground in Asia."
Another provider of its own brand of MP3 and MP4 players is Grifleman LLC, which supplies the Lucky Pemp (Personal Electronic Media Player) brand. While the prices from this supplier, based in Northglenn, CO, are well below those of known national brands, owner Charles McGinness, believes his brand's primary advantage has to do with ease of use.
"We offer more than a generic box with a manual that you can't read," he says. His company's units are proprietary from start to finish, with their own unique way of opening and closing, and most importantly, with a manual that has been translated and tailored to a U.S. audience.
Furthermore, McGinness says, "We provide a warranty. And we also help people load music via our www.luckypemps.com website, which is devoted solely to providing help and information." Sales take place on the company's wholesale website at www.luckymp4s.com.
Grifleman currently carries eight different models of Lucky Pemp brand MP3 and MP4 players. Wholesale pricing for the former begins at $14, and at $21 for the latter. There is a $99 sample pack that includes one unit each of three different models; a $119 pack with one each of four different models, and a $149 pack containing one each of five units.
McGinness says his company plans to soon supply unlocked phones. With those, as with its current product line, he also emphasizes, "The customer will have an assurance that the product will work."
Unbranded electronics are also available from Anwar Enterprises, a wholesaler company based in Reidsville, NC. Idrees Anwar, owner, says the company offers about 10 different MP3 and MP4 players with different capabilities and screen sizes, along with digital cameras, games and other related products.
"The well known brands provide certain customers with a level of comfort they're willing to pay for," Anwar acknowledges. "But the quality of our unbranded items is comparable." Therefore, it makes money for the retailer and saves money for the consumer.
As an example of the difference, he says, "A branded MP4 player may cost $200, versus $70 to $80 for an unbranded equivalent." To give consumers a level of confidence in unbranded products, Anwar Enterprises gives a 15 day warranty to consumers. "As long as the consumer follows the directions and uses the product properly, we'll replace it if it's defective."
His company calls for a 10 piece minimum, and it can contain a mix of products. Wholesale prices for an MP3 player range from $14 to $55, depending on its capabilities, and the typical mark up, Anwar says, is at least double the wholesale.
While MP3/4 players and newer electronics may get the most public attention, APLM Distributing in Elgin, MI, banks on the increasing demand for wireless radio, two way radios, GPS units, weather radios, cordless phones and scanners. It carries all the major brands, says Pat Mullaney, a sales executive with the company, and they include Kenwood, First Alert and Uniden.
"Our price points are attractive, and in general, the retailer can expect a return of between 45 and 65 percent on his investment," Mullaney says. On most products there is no minimum.
APLM will put together a package of top selling wireless radios for retailers. However, Mullaney says he typically interviews a beginning retailer to understand the store's objectives. "Then we send a line card that lists and describes our products, gives specific information and an idea of retail price points. After that, we work together to assemble a winning mix."
Tooks International offers wearable electronics in the form of beanies, called the Tooks Classic, and a newer Tooks headband. They are pronounced, "twok," and the name comes from the French Canadian word for beanie, which is, "toque," or, "touque." Both feature built in modular headphones to combine fashion with music.
The headphones are, "especially engineered for superior sound quality," says the company's director of marketing and sales. The initial Classic was originally designed for use in winter sports, but has proven popular for those who do all kinds of activities, including jogging, biking, hiking, skiing and just working out or walking. It's made of 100 percent bulk acrylic and is offered in a choice of six colors: black, gray, navy blue, brown, red and pink.
The Tooks headband followed the Tooks Classic and is made of 100 percent polyester. Additional line extensions are on the way.
The headphones are inserted into the inner layers of fabric, so they are hidden and can be adjusted for placement directly over the wearer's ears. A small piece of Velcro keeps them secure.
However, unlike earplug units, which block the ear completely, the Tooks headphones allow some ambient sound to be heard, making them safe while skiing or attending a football or other sports game. They are removable, so the beanie can be machine washed.
The full line comes with a standard Tooks logo on the back. Custom logos, for local teams and organizations, are also available in minimum quantities of just 50 pieces, and the embroidery charge for custom is between $2 and $3 a unit, depending on the intricacy of the design. This custom capability allows retailers to cultivate business among schools, clubs and community groups.
The wholesale price for standard beanies begins at $12.50 a unit in a case of 25, and it can include a mix of colors. The typical retail price is about $19.99 for a headband and $24.99 for a beanie, but many retailers sell them for just under $30, according to the director of marketing and sales.
The following people at these companies were interviewed for this article:
Idrees Anwar, owner
1645 Freeway Drive
Reidsville, NC 27320
Pat Mullaney, sales executive
1435 Holmes Road
Elgin, IL 60123
Toll Free: 866-758-0058
Charles McGinness, owner
10931 Pearl Way
Northglenn, CO 80233
Toll Free Fax: 866-712-2829
Nick Naylor, sales and marketing supervisor
iFox Technologies Inc.
945 Seahawk Circle
Virginia Beach, VA 23452
Toll Free: 800-877-5478
Director of marketing and sales
P.O. Box 270055
Louisville, CO 80027
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