A strong inventory is key in having the right stock at the right time if you want to have success as a wholesaler, according to OneWorld Collection managing director, Greg Ollerhead.
“We have our core range launching this month together with a catalogue for stores to keep and show their customers,” he says.
“From this core range the stores can order and be assured that we will always have that stock available for them for quick delivery. That means they can take orders and even ship directly to their customers using our distribution system (drop ship model). We believe the smart stores will be using these kinds of tools to be competitive with online companies.”
Ollerhead explains that one of the major challenges in Australia is freight and distribution, especially with items that are very volumetric but not that expensive.
“We tried an offshore warehouse to then ship directly to customers to save on freight, which slowed deliveries down too much unfortunately, so it ended up damaging sales and we closed that down.”
OneWorld was founded in 1989 in London and Ollerhead brought the business to Australia in 2003. The brand now operates in the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the US. He started mainly selling smaller accessory items but moved into the larger furniture category as the businesses and infrastructure grew. Furniture and lighting are now key categories, but there are still a lot of accessories as they complement the other items.
Ollerhead says furniture innovation is beginning to look at ways of reducing costs while keeping the look and quality of the items. For instance, new technologies using manufactured timber with a really smart laminated oak sheet over the top is working very well. This is also better for the environment as the manufactured board is mostly made up of by-products from other timber processes and is very durable as far as splitting goes in the Australian environment.
Lighting products are also set to change a lot in the coming years as we start to see charging ports built into lamps for wireless charging. LED is also starting to get much smaller and more flexible, so it can be used in many more designs now than a few years ago.
“We try hard to work with designers and factories to create ranges that are well designed but hit the price point that independent retailers can sell for and still be competitive. It’s a tough market for independent retailers right now with the online world finding its place in the market so having good product at competitive prices is vital.
“We are launching a new lighting range with Shayna Blaze in June, which will feature on national TV, and we will promote the range for independent stores―this type of exposure is not often offered to independent stores and we feel this is a difference with OneWorld.
“Our Sorrento furniture range is going really well―here we combine great style with a very high quality finish at prices that are spot on for end user customers. We have a fully assembled bedside table with steel draw runners for wholesale under $199 and offered in three colours.”
A few years ago OneWorld launched a custom lampshade business, but that became too difficult to maintain after moving into the US and NZ markets.
“We have been streamlining our business in the last year due to the expansion into the US and New Zealand, so it was becoming too complicated having a custom lampshade business tagged on the side of OneWorld. We now do all of that type of business through OneWorld and our sales reps can focus on giving a one stop service to our retail customers.”
However, OneWorld’s focus remains steadily on the Australian market, supporting independent retailers with good quality stock for the right price.
“We are concentrating really hard on making our Australian business the best we can with our core stock ranges and catalogue, plus working on how we can lower delivery costs for retailers. We have had great growth in the past few months and hope this will continue through 2018.
“We have some amazing partnerships with overseas companies that allow us to offer deals to Australian retailers through our purchasing power with our sister company in the UK. For instance, we have good quality three-seater sofas for $595 right now that are walking out the door and by being very conscious of price points and distribution we feel the opportunities are there for retailers to do well even in this tricky retail climate.”