Carol Mackin and her husband John have a heart for paper.
With three decades in the fine paper business, the Mackin’s have the sort of love for paper that embraces all the senses and reveals papermakers as craftsman and artisans. OrangeArt Wholesale is a bricks and mortar B2B wholesaler located in Woodstock, Connecticut with an office and warehouse operating within two large red dairy barns sitting on 8 acres of pasture.
As a wholesale business-to-business website, OrangeArt Wholesale started in 2005. When Carol’s custom website was jeopardized by their hosting company going out of business, Carol set out to find a reliable and stable platform. The solution was AmeriCommerce.
We reached out to Carol for a round of questions and answers and this is what she had to share.
What is OrangeArt and what kind of customers do you serve?
OrangeArt is a manufacturer of American made letterpress social stationery and exclusive agents of fine social papers and accessories from Europe. Our customers are retail stores, fine printers and in 2012 we added a limited consumer site.
What success did you experience in 2012 and what made that happen?
We had significant growth. We have been a reliable wholesale source of these papers since 1993 and in 2012 we expanded our product lines significantly. We are placing our products in non-traditional retail outlets such a bookstores, markets, etc. and listening to the retailer’s requirements more than ever.
How did you first get started selling online and what about it surprised you?
We have had a B2B site since 2005. It is a challenge to introduce creative products and do business on the same site. What surprised us is once a customer uses our online service, that is generally the way they communicate with us from that point on. This alleviates pressure on our bricks and mortar customer service.
What do you feel has made your site successful?
We focus on good images and content which makes the wholesale ordering experience for our retailer dealers closer to a consumer experience. Our customers tend to be creative design people and need a visual approach. We did this without sacrificing ordering efficiency.
How are you addressing web marketing challenges like SEO, Social Media, Email Marketing, and Paid Search?
Along with our AmeriCommerce wholesale website, we have opened an additional, limited retail store with AmeriCommerce last year and are working on these challenges for the first time because social media has not been as important on the larger, wholesale site. We already know most of our current and potential wholesale customers and they know us because we have been around for a long time. Better content is a goal this year on our wholesale site and perhaps a blog as this helps our retailers understand our products. Mobile apps for the retail site would be helpful.
What are some of your most effective parts of your online store or shopping experience and why?
Combining related products. It is a service to the retailer, fine printer or consumer to remind them to buy the envelopes for the paper!
What have you done on a regular basis to promote your site?
Every communication we have offline (phone, fax, mail) is followed up by a personal email with links to the pages that would be of interest to our customer. We are a “bricks and mortar” company with excellent customer service. They train our customers to use the “store” for their own benefit. Order history, for example is very important. Our “old” site combined offline and online history which is ideal and we hope to find a solution that re-institutes this on our AmeriCommerce B2B site soon.
What advice do you have for beginners who are interested in getting started selling over the Web?
Think like your visitor
What developments do you foresee over the next year that will have an impact on the world of e-commerce?
Small businesses will have to contract outside e-commerce expertise to remain competitive. Two way data integration (web to accounting/inventory software and back to web) will be a standard offering rather than a custom integration.
What are some of the challenges AmeriCommerce has helped you overcome?
They have allowed us a way to manage both our wholesale and retail e-commerce business’ which have very different customers and needs. Access to shared site design features and images makes maintenance much, much easier.
I could never have done our online stores without AmeriCommerce tech support. They have been great. That is my favorite AmeriCommerce feature. They want to get to the bottom of the problem just as fast as you do.
To learn more about OrangeArt go to their wholesale site https://www.orangeart.com or their retail site https://www.orangeartstore.com/