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Ideas for Jewelry & Accessory Businesses
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It is only a three-wheel work van, often fitted like a mini truck, and you could often see them navigating the ancient streets of Italy with work-a-day ease.  Now, however, the upgraded “scooter-van,” called the Ape (English translation, “The Bee”) by Plaggio, is wheeling its way around the fashionable streets of Milan, Rome, and Florence with a whole new personality, and a whole new upgraded role, that of mobile fashion retailer. And is it ever successful!

It’s not in the United States yet, but watch out, people.  It is on the way!

It seems that Valeria Ferlini of Milan got the idea a while back to convert an Ape into a high-end mobile retail unit for her clothing and fashion accessories line, Melandra.  She took out the flowers the Ape had previously hawked, reoutfitted the van, and voila!  A new concept for retail mobility was in the works.

Impulse Purchases

Ferlini felt that customers don’t have time to prepare psychologically for purchases when they are on the street as opposed to being in a store. As a result, they are much more open to “impulse” purchases.  They are also hit with surprise when they find high quality merchandise being sold from a street van.  Not exactly the conventional scenario, but a terrific idea for merchandising with a brand new twist.

HOWEVER AND WHEREVER YOU SELL, QUALITY MERCHANDISE IS ALWAYS DESIRABLE.  HERE ARE SOME PIECES WITH TERRIFIC VALUE:

Ferlini patented the idea with the Ape manufacturer, and is offering customized Apes for a little less than $15,000 at the current exchange. That buys you the mobile van, and a trained driver/sales representative who’ll sell your wares on consignment using the routes and strategies Ferlini has developed over the past few years.  New areas demand new moving systems, obviously, but they can be cleverly put together as the van gets spiffied up and ready to roll.

Now, you might not think too much of the Ape idea at first glance.  After all, we’ve seen push-cart retailing in malls and the likes for some time.  But this fashion brain-child is no slacker.  Ferlini is generating over a million dollars a year, and individual Apes are racking up well over $1,000 a day.  That’s something to make you stop and take notice!

Ferlini now has over 50 “Moving Shop” vans bringing fashion excitement throughout Italy, as well as the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.  She has also started an expansion program for France, and other areas.  On the books, as well:  A move in the near future into the United States.

Guerrilla Marketing

A start-up accessories firm, called Tie-ups, has latched onto the Ape idea as a way of promoting its new and colorful belts.  Apparently less interested in selling belts from the van than creating brand awareness, the company uses the Ape as a guerrilla-style marketing device. The Ape is brought to street fairs and malls, where its back-lit belt displays on three sides and its built-in projector that lights up city walls at night are mesmerizing street customers and pushing brand-awareness to the maximum.

So…why are we talking all about a foreign van and a foreign concept?  Because it looks like it could work magic on the streets of the USA!  Not interested in selling on consignment?  That’s not necessary, either.  Consider this:  Retailers could equip their own van (sorry, Ape) with fashion accessories to take to various spots where large gatherings of potential customers exist.  That means fairs.  Flea markets.  Malls.  Resort areas.  If the people aren’t coming to you, well…you go to the people!

MOBILE MARKETING CAN MEAN EXCELLENT ADDED INCOME FOR YOUR RETAIL OPERATION IF USED EFFECTIVELY.  HERE ARE SOME HI-VALUE ACCESSORIES THAT COULD ADD IMPORTANCE TO YOUR PRODUCT MIX:

MOBILE DESIGN

Ferlini is impressed with the impact selling high-end fashion from a van can have on customers.   But we suggest that so long as the merchandise is stylish and of good quality, the customer-effect can be the same.  Designing the van with handsome illustrations and signage can also work wonders, as would adding pull-out display units and other exciting van embellishments.

Of course, Ferlini’s Apes will soon be offered in the United States, and you can wait for them to arrive, too, as the full package price is admittedly very modest.  One way or the other, it’s a fun idea to know about, and possibly a very profitable one to put into effect for your own retailing!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, February 8th, 2010


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