"Our PNC team educates us about new products and processes that can help us streamline our efforts. They have helped us move beyond the seemingly endless paper trails and juggling acts so we can get down to business!"
A Marriage Made in Cyberspace
From 1988 to 2000, Cathy LaValley sold her bridal accessories primarily to independent bridal shops. Bricks-and-mortar locations accounted for 94% of her sales. But the turn-of-the-millennium surge in Internet shopping changed the bridal industry almost overnight. Brides began opting for the convenience of buying accessories through the Web, and online bridal retailers began to proliferate. If Cathy's Concepts was going to stay in the game, Cathy needed to change her business model ... quickly.
Her success in embracing electronic technology and transforming Cathy's Concepts into a virtual vendor has helped her become an internationally recognized brand and multimillion-dollar wholesaler. Today, only 6% of her sales are of the bricks-and-mortar variety; a whopping 94% happen through 500+ bridal and gift retailer Web sites.
Building Lasting Relationships
Cathy's Concepts works like this: Cathy's team designs product and creates product copy and graphics for their retail partners to feature on their sites. When a consumer orders, the order is forwarded to Cathy's Concepts, who drop-ships it directly to the customer on behalf of the retailer.
"Our partnerships work well because we leverage one another's strengths," Cathy explains. "The retailers handle what has become the very complex and expensive science of reaching consumers through online marketing and search engine optimization. We handle product development, warehousing and distribution."
Growing Toward a Bright Future
Cathy's team's product-development prowess works hand-in-hand with their technological skills. They have diversified the product line to include personalized gifts, ceremony and reception essentials, wedding decorations, philanthropic products, invitations and stationery, and a full line of fraternity and sorority merchandise. This diversification has taken their business beyond bridal retailer sites to those of mainstream retailers including Amazon, JCPenney and Overstock.com.
The company's warehousing and distribution capabilities have taken Cathy into new territory as well. With a location as central as Indianapolis, where she can reach 80% of the U.S. population within two business days, how could she resist expanding the business to offer state-of-the-art third-party logistics? This new division personalizes, packs, warehouses and ships other manufacturers' products efficiently and cost-effectively.
"We have become much more efficient in our business processes, and that has opened us up to new opportunities," Cathy explains. "We have PNC to thank for a lot of that. Our banking team has truly taken the time to get to know our business. They educate us about new products and processes that can help us streamline our efforts. They have helped us move beyond the seemingly endless paper trails and juggling acts so we can get down to business!"
Where Cathy's Concepts might go next is anyone's guess. Cathy is definitely open to new expansion opportunities. "Our ability to innovate keeps taking us in exciting new directions," she says. "We have a huge future ahead of us."