Biting Into the Apple Revolution
No. carts/kiosks: 80
No. employees: 14
Avg. monthly operator revenue: $15,000-$25,000
Headquarters: San Diego, CA
Mission Statement: iPlayNTalk is committed to providing high-end, fashionable, best-selling products that fulfill the wants and needs of Apple portable device users.
Strength of Concept: Largest provider of accessories for Apple products; Apple’s products have grown in popularity, sparking growth in accessories.
Riding the coattails of an iconic company, iPlayNTalk, a retailer of accessories for Apple portable devices, has experienced growth in both product offerings and locations over its seven-year history.
In 2005, a cart in San Diego, CA, began selling accessories for the popular Apple iPod. The company that evolved as a result, iPlayNTalk, could not have forecast the explosive growth in Apple portable devices over the next seven years. As Apple has brought the iPhone and the iPad to an increasingly eager market, iPlayNTalk has grown right along with the iconic company, greatly expanding its product offerings and locations.
Within the first couple of years of opening its first cart, iPlayNTalk expanded to a few locations elsewhere in California. “We started getting calls from leasing managers that wanted us to open a location in their mall. As they liked our visual display, unique line of products, customer service and the way we do business, says Eran Shalom, chief executive officer for
the company headquartered in San Diego.
Recently, the company changed focus and began growing by offering its products wholesale to independent retailers. By the end of 2011 there were about 80 iPlayNTalk locations—a mix of carts and kiosks—in North America and several other countries, including the United Kingdom and Germany.
Since our concept is limited to Apple devices, the company’s goal is to have a retailer in every mall where there is a large community of Apple end users.”
iPlayNTalk offers a wide range of high-end accessories for the Apple iPod, iPhone and iPad. These include cases, speaker systems, Bluetooth accessories, hands-free solutions for iPhones, chargers, cables, waterproof products and sports armbands. These products are made by several manufacturers. In some cases the license agreement requires that they be sold through retailers dedicated exclusively to iPlayNTalk.
iPlayNTalk target market is Apple customers, and they have high demands. The company’s goal is to offer full-service solutions to meet their wants and needs. iPlayNTalk enjoys a customer base with a wide range of demographics, who are looking for high quality merchandise to protect their devices, have a fashionable statement and functionality..
iPlayNTalk’s top-selling items include a two-piece case for the iPhone, which ranges from $29.99 to 39.99 retail; the Porter Case for the iPad, at $59.99; and the Custom Jacket for the iPad, which sells for $39.99. A Bluetooth headset, ranging from $99.99 to $129.99 at retail, is another
top-seller, despite its lofty price tag. Most of the products fall within the $29.99 to $59.99 retail range. “The nature of our business is to bring great, up-to-date products to [our retailers] at great prices,” Shalom says. An important part of the high-end customer experience is the products themselves—which have high-end branded packaging.
The shopping experience
iPlayNTalk knows its customers are looking for a high-end shopping experience, and that its carts and kiosks should look the part. “When you [visit our store], you feel like you are in a place that sells high-end accessories,” Shalom says. Retailers are not required to have a uniform look, but they are strongly encouraged to use high-quality materials and make their cart or kiosk visually appealing.
But it’s not just about looks. The company encourages retailers to shy away from aggressive demonstration techniques and sales pitches, and educate iPlayNTalk retailers to provide excellent customer service, in order to create a loyal cliental.
iPlayNTalk’s quality shopping experience makes it an attractive concept to malls. “We have been approached by leasing managers who like how we operate,” Shalom says.
iPlayNTalk is a year-round concept, and excellent markup helps retailers succeed. Since iPlayNTalk is limited to providing accessories to Apple devices, the company offers large range of products to cover all Apple customers needs, including unique products, such as water proof cases and headphones, portable speakers, iPad car mounts, and much more.
Setup and support
“When potential operators contact us, we assist them in finding a location,” Shalom says. “We help tailor their initial order to the space they have. We give them tips and strategies based on the knowledge we have gained since 2005 about what works and what doesn’t, to help them run a successful business. We share our considerable experience in the business.”
The company offers free basic visual merchandising services to help operators create a cart or kiosk that is not only visually appealing, but that displays items in such a way as to optimize sales. The company will help retailers contract with visual merchandise consultants for needs beyond basic setup.
iPlayNTalk’s corporate office is comprised of more than a dozen professionals with extensive and varied retail experience. “We are very passionate about the concept and what we bring to operators,” Shalom says. The company promotes its retail concept through mall properties, trade shows and conventions and trade magazine advertising and, importantly, gains many potential operators through word-of-mouth advertising.