Walk into Planet Hollywood’s Café Hollywood in Las Vegas or any Ruth’s Chris Steak House and you’re greeted by friendly, helpful staff—all identifiable as such by their uniform. Uniforms purchased on WaitStuff.com.
With more than 30,000 SKUs in its catalog, WaitStuff Uniforms supplies uniform outfits, including shirts, aprons, pants, vests, scrubs and custom-branded apparel, for its clients, as well as branded merchandise and promotional products such as matchbooks and pens.
Besides Planet Hollywood and Ruth’s Chris, WaitStuff outfits companies such as the Hotel Kinam in Haiti, Tahoe Joe’s Steakhouse, Cinebistro, Marriott Hotels and DoubleTree by Hilton Hotels.
Selling online since 2005 and based in Prescott, Ariz., WaitStuff’s sales were around $2 million in 2017, owner Lory Day says, declining to provide a more specific figure. She says sales grew 10% in 2017 and with its current client projects and historical growth trends, Day projects a 15% growth this year.
B2B to B2C
WaitStuff.com is primarily business-to-business and sells many of its items in bulk. It does sell some products to consumers via Google Shopping and Amazon.com Inc. (No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500). Day says she picks specific products to sell on those marketplaces. For example, WaitStuff has a line of referee shirts, which spike in sales during October as shoppers purchase them for Halloween, Day says.
“I find the Amazon client more personal, less business. Amazon is less uniform-driven, more retail-inspired,” she says.
Day says WaitStuff works to capture online customers with a feature-rich, efficient website. It includes detailed product information, product reviews from clients in the industry, a digital catalog and video to capture customer engagement.
“Throughout our website, we try to speak directly to our visitors to send the message that we are more than e-commerce,” Day says. “We are real people with expertise in uniform programs. We are available during the entire purchasing process—through delivery and after.”
Built on BigCommerce’s e-commerce platform, WaitStuff.com has several interactive features that help usher shoppers through the sometimes complicated B2B buying process and the return process. For instance, products are discounted at varying levels when ordering in bulk. On Waitstuff.com’s product pages, shoppers immediately see the appropriate discount calculated, rather than having to wait on customer service to provide a quote. If a product has to be returned, a customer can obtain the required merchandise return authorization information and print a return label directly from the site, eliminating the need to contact customer service, Day says. WaitStuff has five employees.
WaitStuff.com also creates company portals for its B2B clients. These portals include a certain level of restriction based on the client’s needs, such as restricted pages with branded products not available to the public, a restricted product selection of corporate-approved apparel or public pages for clubs or organizations to easily direct people to select products for purchase.
For example, some of its clients purchase branded apparel in bulk, which WaitStuff holds in inventory, Day says. The client can then give its staff access to the company apparel and place orders as needed, shipped to any of its locations. Some clients have strict image and branding requirements that apply to one or a few locations, so access to those products can be fine-tuned so only staff at those locations can order them. A company portal also can include unpublished special pricing and the ability for clients to see current inventory levels. All features are intended to streamline the uniform ordering process, Days says.
WaitStuff.com attracts an average of 48,556 monthly visits, according to data from web measurement firm SimilarWeb, from the six-month period August 2017 to January 2018. Traffic spiked in September 2017 at nearly 93,000 visits and remained high in October with more than 70,000 visits, but tapered off in the following months. Day says these shifts in web traffic account for seasonal changes in how hospitality businesses shop. For instance, clients are preparing for the winter uniform shift in September and October, and traffic picks up again when clients are preparing for spring and summer uniforms.
Organic search accounts for for 74.7% of WaitStuff’s traffic. Search terms that most often lead to visits to WaitStuff.com include “maid uniform,” which accounts for 5.5% of organic traffic; “restaurant uniforms,” 3.6%; and “best websites for server uniforms,” 2.9%.
The e-retailer also spends “thousands” of dollars on paid search ads monthly through Google Adwords, Day says. Paid search brings 2.7% of all website traffic, with the search team “maid uniform” and “front desk uniform” each accounting for 0.4%, according to SimilarWeb.
WaitStuff.com was launched in 2005 by Day, who says she had very little knowledge of e-commerce but an intimate understanding of the hospitality industry after working as assistant general manager of a hotel for more than a decade. “Our model requires live people with real expertise. We provide products, but we sell a service. In an e-commerce and digital world where choices are endless and instant, it is vital to build true confidence immediately. Strategic pricing is important, but our success really comes from our old-school customer service,” she says.
At WaitStuff’s inception, Day says she knew she had to sell online to reach clients she could never reach with only a bricks-and-mortar location. Through WaitStuff.com, the company has customers all over the world. “Just looking at shops that do cool things but have no web presence–it blows my mind. They’re already doing this amazing business but if they’d just put it online, they’d open up a huge sales channel,” Day says.