Kayaking, Partying & Profits
Personalization On Premises
After 5 and Surf to Summit fulfill orders right out of the company’s Santa Barbara headquarters. Taking a page out of Lillian Vernon’s book, After 5 makes frequent use of product-personalization to help make its merchandise stand out.
“We make a product, we build it here [at the company’s Santa Barbara headquarters], then somebody knocks it off and gets it made in China for much cheaper,” he says. “But China can never compete with our personalization. That keeps us from being undercut by cheaper versions.”
The company operates seven sublimation presses that execute personalization, all of which it built, literally, from scratch at an $80,000 investment. Being a jack of all trades, States also built a T-shirt printing machine for $20,000.
The company “has a lot of opportunity with its personalization,” Gallo of Magellan’s says. “But it’s more of an online opportunity than in print. The economics of online vs. print and the ability to offer more of a dynamic online store — especially for the personalized kinds of products After 5 has been pursuing — is much more demonstrable online than in print. And with the technology available today to make an engaging and compelling Web site that can tell the story on personalization, it allows customers to see what those possibilities are.”
What’s more, After 5’s robust prospecting activity in 2005 set the company up for greater growth with the print book. Although After 5 annually had been mailing fewer than 500,000 books to customers and prospects through ’04, it mailed more than 2 million catalogs in ’05, primarily to prospects, to build up its housefile by 85 percent. That propelled it to 16th in the last year’s Catalog Success 200, which ranks the fastest growing catalogers by housefile growth for the previous year.