Artistic tableware and lifestyle brand manufacturer Beatriz Ball has come a long way since launching three decades ago as a specialty retailer of metal tableware products handmade by Mexican artisans. By 2004, it had established its own foundry outside of Mexico City for its metal products and initiated a wholesale division; it went on to win numerous industry awards and in 2017 was chosen as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things.
Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic restricting its client retailers’ traditional purchasing activities with field sales reps and at trade shows, New Orleans-based Beatriz Ball has launched its first B2B wholesale ecommerce portal.
The portal is a years-long need that, during the pandemic, has reached a level of urgency. Because of the increasing desire among buyers for the convenience, speed and ease of using the internet, “many of our independent retailers were slowly gravitating to online buying, and our industry has witnessed increasing online orders year over year,” says Kelly Wenzel, national sales director. “However, COVID-19 only accelerated that shift in retailers’ online purchasing behavior, since reps were not on the road and spring trade shows were canceled or postponed.”
“The B2B portal,” she adds, “will play a vital role in the coming months, as summer trade shows have been postponed, and attendance is projected to be a fraction of what it is normally. So many unknowns surround the market season, and the portal is something completely in our control.”
Portal is ‘not only about ecommerce’
Wholesale sales account for more than 90% of the company’s revenue, and Beatriz Ball company expects the B2B portal to eventually account for 15% of B2B revenue, says David Rivé, general manager, Beatriz Ball Collection. Beatriz Ball products—now made of glass, acrylic, linen and melamine as well as metal—are sold through Amazon.com, Target, Zola, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and more than 1,500 independently owned tabletop, jewelry and lifestyle stores across the United States, he adds.
“We listened to our retailers,” says Beatriz Ball, the founder, owner and creative director of the company that bears her name. “Just as ecommerce has revolutionized the way that consumers shop, a wholesale online ordering portal affords our retailers an opportunity to easily, safely and comfortably shop online.”
But Ball says the importance of the new B2B portal goes beyond ecommerce sales. “The website is not only about ecommerce,” she says. “Through the site and its marketing, it generates awareness, influences consideration and builds branding in our community of retailers.”
Dealing with a world ‘forever changed’
The artistic tableware and lifestyle brand company—whose products range from champagne glasses and etched metal serving platters to jewelry and ornate picture frames—is adding a wide range of content on the portal designed to both engage customers and improve rankings in internet search results, Ball adds. The content includes a library of retailer-facing blogs and educational information on industry trends and tips on successful retailing. It also features a video showing how artisans make metal tableware by hand. “Google looks at over 200 factors in evaluating the authority of a site through its content and status as a trusted brand,” Ball says.
She adds that her company is promoting its website, which also processes business-to-consumer sales in addition to the B2B portal, through social media ads, cost-per-click online display ads, re-messaging marketing notes to customers, “and a steady flow of e-blasts designed in-house by our talented graphics department.”
“Our world forever changed us in the last few months, and more than ever, people want to shop online,” Ball says. “Whether by attending summer markets or by browsing online, I want to make my best-selling products and new introductions accessible to my loyal retailers.”
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