Kole Imports caters to large and small buyers on a new e-commerce site

The new KoleImports.com launched Monday to make it easier for big buyers to buy in bulk and smaller buyers to purchase individual items, vice president Jason Kole says. Kole is a wholesaler of products ranging from household goods and automotive supplies to sports equipment and school supplies.

Paul Demery

On its new e-commerce site launched yesterday, Kole Imports Inc. is out to make it easier for business customers and individual consumers to buy products either in bulk or individual items, says Jason Kole, vice president of business development. On the same product page, shoppers can choose to buy either multiple cases or just a handful of items—and in either case get real-time updates of shipping costs for standard or expedited deliveries by several major carriers.

Customers can also see such online information as how many pallets a bulk order will fill, so that they can plan for the correct number of warehouse workers and forklifts to receive their order when it arrives, Kole says. Customers placing smaller orders can see how many additional cases they’d have to order to fill out a single pallet to benefit from lower-rate bulk pricing and better plan the space in their warehouse.

“As people get more understanding of buying on the Internet, they want more information at their fingertips,” Kole says. “We’re trying to make it easier to shop for really large corporate shoppers, while also making it easier for smaller businesses, too.”

In many cases, customers placing small orders may be individual consumers buying large quantities of microfiber cleaning cloths for their home, or a coach buying soccer balls for a team. “A guy with a soccer team may want to buy just six soccer balls,” Kole says.

On a product page for soccer balls, for example, a shopper can choose to buy by item, typically at a minimum of two items per order, or he can choose to purchase by number of cases. Either way, the page immediately shows shipping costs for standard ground, two-day and overnight shipping for three carriers: FedEx Corp., United Parcel Services of America Inc., and the United States Postal Service. Shoppers can click any of those shipping options to have the shipping cost immediately added to their total cost; they can also click to arrange to pick up their order at Kole’s Carson, CA, distribution center, which is between Los Angeles and Long Beach; and they can click to forward their online order to a sales rep if they need special assistance in arranging shipping.

Kole provides shipping worldwide; it also maintains its own trucking fleet for deliveries in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Kole offers free shipping on orders above $2500 to locations within 30 miles of its distribution center.

Kole sets no minimum order value, but charges a $5 fee for processing orders of under $50.

Kole went with eBay Inc.’s Magento Enterprise e-commerce platform to launch his new site, and had the development work done by a Magento-certified development partner that he declines to name. Among the site’s other new features are an increase in the number of product images, with multiple images and longer descriptions to help buyers make purchasing decisions.

The new site’s home page is designed to quickly direct buyers according to their basic shopping needs. The main image directs them to click to browse the full product catalog, while two other sections link to “New Arrivals” of products or special “In-and-Out Promotions” that come in merchandising displays suitable for end-caps at the entrance to store shopping aisles. A fourth section of the home page invites businesses to sell excess merchandise to Kole.

To help kick off the new site, Kole is giving away an iPad Mini to every customer who places an order valued at more than $3,000, and an iPod Shuffle to every customer who places an order between $1,000 and $3,000. “It’s a marketing expense,” Kole says, adding that he’s advertising the campaign through e-mail and Internet search campaigns. “If we get thousands of orders, we’ll spend a lot of money on Apple products. It’s a risk we’re able to take.”

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