3D Innovation Creates Dazzling Profits
Concept: Laser-engraved crystals
Headquarters: Valley Stream, NY
Mission: To serve and guide customers in finding the perfect personalized gift for all occasions and to deliver exceptional customer service throughout
Strength of concept: Attention-grabbing crystal gifts in common area, no inventory, no demonstration needed Number of retailers selling crystal portraits: 25 locations around the country: four are corporate-owned,
65 additional wholesalers
Number of employees: 35
A product that turns heads in the common area. No inventory to stock. No demonstrations needed. See why 3D Innovation’s tried-and-tested concept has the potential to rake in crystal-clear sales.
What is the magic formula for high-volume sales in a shopping center’s common area? Given that customers walk by an RMU or kiosk within minutes the product would have to grab their attention instantly and not require demonstration to make an impact.
The solution, according to Tomer Yariv, is crystal clear: The laser-engraved products that his company 3D Innovation sells deliver just such a “Wow!” statement—and are made to attract traffic and boost sales.
A laser focus on revenue
3D Innovation sells a variety of laser-engraved personalized custom gifts that strike a chord: a picture memory preserved forever in three-dimensions, in a superior crystal. The process starts when a customer brings in a photograph that will form the heart of the gift. A staff member scans the picture, and this digital print then serves as the base for transfer to the crystal. Customers can also upload digital photos at the shopping center unit.
3D Innovation’s proprietary software ensures that the digital image is corrected to perfection and then used as a substrate for the final product. “Our experienced top-of-the-line prime graphic designers will work diligently on your picture to correct any flaws and eliminate the background if needed,” says Noa Gansky, the company’s Vice President of Licensing and Wholesale division.
A high-technology “lasering” process called vitrography transfers the image to the crystal at the company’s Long Island, New York, location. Much like the way a series of pixelated dots combines to create a high-impact picture, so too does the laser. It creates a constellation of etched dots on the crystal that together form a striking image. Essentially, the digital 2D picture is converted into a 3D image and a laser-directed beam “burns” each point of the image to the crystal below. Proprietary software and hardware controls the movement of the laser beam as well as its penetration depth, which ensures that the 3D image will look like the original 2D picture.
More so, says Yariv, the technology has improved so much over the past 11 years that he has been working with these products, that the transformation from a picture to a three-dimensional etched image in a crystal is seamless and extremely high-resolution. “Our engraving technique is considered to be the best-in-class, high-resolution subsurface crystal laser engraving system,” says Gansky.
3D Innovation’s laser imaging also works to translate three-dimensional objects onto the final crystals. In other words, the starting point isn’t limited to just pictures. “This technique enables us to emboss pictures, words and memories onto a variety of crystals,” says Gansky, “We use the latest German technology of laser engraving in crystals to produce very high-quality, top-of-the-line personalized crystals for our customers.”
“The final product is so realistic and so beautiful, it just creates a ‘Wow’ reaction,” Yariv says, “it’s not like a mass-produced product you get from China; we create each gift individually. These are custom-made, one by one, for the customer.”
The laser-engraved gifts are available in a variety of shapes from diamond, flat, heart, prestige, tower and more. Most of the designs come in small, medium and large sizes. Key chains and ornaments are also available, although smaller crystals usually accommodate a fewer number of people or other image components in the final product. Specialty retailers can upsell with add-ons such as LED bases (which have a three-year warranty) and cleaning kits. All products come labeled with the company brand name, logo and information, and they ship from the Long Island office in two to three business days, although express service is also available.
Depending on the size and shape of the gifts chosen, mall location and other factors, the retail price can vary from $29 to $799, and markup is between 300 and 700 percent.
For every season and reason
Yariv and his business partner, co-owner Zeev Goldis, who is also the Retail Sales Manager and Business Development Officer, had been in the retail business for 15 years, experimenting with a variety of other products before hitting the jackpot with laser-engraved crystals.
All those years of retail experience have given them the expertise to hone the product and related sales techniques. “We have a lot of experience in retail because we started from the bottom up. We know how to sell it, and have sold a lot of products in the past,” Yariv says.
The crystals provoke an emotional response from the buyer, Yariv points out: “It’s a very emotional buy and it lasts forever, never fades or wears away. If you would like to revive the pasts, just bring in an old picture. We can give great results with any image,” he says.
Yariv adds that this same emotional response and the fact that the product is so arresting in the common area means that a customer will always remember the concept. “Even if they’re not going to buy it the first time, they’re never going to forget it, and when they need a unique gift, they’ll know where you are and come back,” he says.
This “unique gift” is good for any occasion: “Valentine’s, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and Christmas—these make amazing gifts all year-round.” Yariv says.
“Our keepsakes are beautiful, unique and from the heart,” Gansky says. “Your customers can personalize a crystal with a photo, logo or design, and we specialize in unique occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, graduations and memorials.” Company logos and awards are also a popular option. “We know your customers will love our products; no matter what the occasion is, our products will make the perfect gift that will be loved and kept forever,” Gansky adds.
Of relevance to specialty retailers is the fact that these laser-engraved crystal gifts are not restricted to the Christmas season. “Some retailers, they sell a product just for Christmas and then they’re done and have to figure out what to do for the rest of the year; we have that all covered,” Goldis says.
Specialty retail gold
3D Innovation’s laser-engraved crystals make an especially great fit for specialty retail because there is no inventory to manage. An order is placed only after full payment is received from the customer. This frees up cash flow for the retailer, who then only has to take care of his staff and rent, Yariv points out. Unlike the way other mall common-area products are presented, you don’t need to set out testers and there isn’t a great deal of overhead, again saving on costs. “To manage inventory is a work of art; you really need to know what you’re doing. The best part about our product is that at the end of the day the money is in your pocket,” Yariv says. With 3D Innovation you don’t have to worry about ordering too much or too little product.
Another surefire way into the hearts and minds of specialty retailers? Three magic words: “No demonstration needed.” As specialty leasing rules get tighter about staff soliciting customers in the common area, you need a product that will attract attention without demonstrations or related techniques. 3D Innovation’s products do just that. “We build something very eye-catching so people stop by,” Yariv says. “You don’t need to be—or hire—a professional salesperson to sell our product. Of course, you need to know how to interact and do customer service but selling our product is much easier than any demonstration item and really sells itself.”
3D Innovation got its start with a mall kiosk operation at the Queens Center Mall, Queens, NY. It has used its more than 10 years of experience in retail to craft a complete common-area display solution for specialty retailers. “After years of research we have come up with a TOU [tenant-owned unit] that works best; it belongs to you, the retailer,” Yariv says, adding that the one-time investment pays off in powerful merchandising and is mobile so the unit can be moved around to any shopping center.
“Our TOU has two workstations, a bigger display, amazing design and visibility,” Gansky says. “It allows the wholesaler to function as a kiosk at the cost of an RMU. Even better, the TOU can fit each mall and location, so if the retailer decides that he would like to relocate to a different mall he can do so by using his existing TOU and doesn’t need to spend more money on display.”
Yariv says that the company’s designers worked hard with fabricator AC Design to create specially fabricated units that are meant to showcase the laser-engraved products in the best possible light. 3D Innovation plans on bringing such a setup to SPREE RECon to dazzle specialty retailers— and leasing managers—shopping for a new concept. “We know we have a strong and beautiful concept. We want to show what we are, who we are and what a huge business opportunity we present. We are a solid company and offer a lot of potential for growth, and are looking forward to working with specialty retail professionals to expand our reach,” Yariv says of his plans for the tradeshow.
From A to Z
Specialty retailers will be carefully screened before being taken onboard by 3D Innovation. “We choose our wholesalers very carefully and are not afraid to turn down one if needed, since we believe in our product and brand and would like to keep and maintain it to be running for the long term,” Gansky says.
But once a specialty retailer is on board, they receive complete support from the company, including negotiations with malls to secure the best rent locations, strategies for using the TOU to best effect, as well as advice for selling better and managing the business. “We bring them to a level where they can be successful entrepreneurs,” Yariv says, “after all, their success is our success and our success is theirs.”
In addition to training and support, their customers can count on stellar customer service from top to bottom, says Gansky. Specialty retailers can offer clients the option of picking up the gift from the mall location, or it can be shipped directly to their home or office.
Once an order is placed, the retailer has a unique login code that will help track which stage of the process—photo-finishing, lasering, packaging, etc.—their order has reached. “We make sure that our customers have the perfect customer service and shopping experience with us, starting from the time of purchase with our experienced specialty retailer until the moment that they open the box to see their final custom-made product,” Gansky says. “For us, the customer service and attention to small details bring it all together in order to create the perfect product.” The company, which has a staff of 35, has a toll-free number that customers can call, and care is taken to make sure that every detail is handled courteously and professionally.
Gazing into the crystal ball
Given the strength of the concept and how tailor-made it is for specialty retailers, Yariv and Gansky expect growth to be meteoric. Of the 25 locations around the country, four are corporate-owned. In addition, 3D Innovation works with 65 wholesalers.
Gansky points out that some locations in a single state (such as five in Texas) are owned by one specialty retailer, a factor that indicates just how easy it is to grow the business. “We have a tight relationship with our wholesalers and specialty retailers. We work with them on a daily basis,” she says, “we need to know it’s working for them and for us.”
“Nobody else compares to what we’re doing—the quality, the perfection, from the first step to the last—and the laser-engraved crystals make perfect gifts at prices attractive to the customer,” Goldis says. “With our specially designed units and that superb ‘Wow’ factor we have built in, the risk is very low and the potential for sales is huge. It’s a surefire winner.”