These days, discount art supplies come a dime a dozen. But back in 1968? They were expensive. Art teachers struggled to find decent prices on classroom materials, and the options were limited for budding artists in search of materials they could actually afford. So when Jerry Goldstein decided to open a discount specialty store, it was an instant success.
For more than 50 years, Jerry’s Artarama has been providing colored pencils, paints and sophisticated art supplies to amateur and professional artists alike. The family-owned and operated retailer was among the first of its kind and has experienced tremendous growth over the decades. Brick-and-mortar stores in the 1970s gave way to mail-order catalogs in the 1980s, and a 10,000-square-foot warehouse in the 1980s was replaced by a facility nearly triple that size in the 1990s. By the time e-commerce burst onto the scene in the 2000s, the pioneering company was in position to take full advantage of online selling opportunities. And for many years, the team at Jerry’s Artarama says it was able to focus on gradually expanding its e-commerce business.
Then came the transition that no one saw coming — and everything changed in an instant. Efforts to slow the spread of COVD-19 forced Jerry’s Artarama and other retailers to temporarily and indefinitely close shop. As stay-at-home orders forced panicked shoppers to buy online, the team quickly decided it was time to lean on a trusted e-commerce solution partner to help navigate the extraordinary industry disruption.
When the global pandemic hit, having a strong e-commerce strategy in place made all the difference, according to Jerry’s Artarama. As work-from-home became the “new normal” and desperate parents searched for creative activities for their now-homeschooled kids, the retailer’s strong digital marketing strategy was met with a massive onslaught of new online orders.
Fortunately, before the pandemic and panic buying, Jerry’s Artarama already understood that selling online would be an important step for the business. According to Dan Stawicki, the company’s e-commerce marketplace specialist, the retailer had been growing its mail-order business for decades, and was eager to connect with consumers through other avenues as well.
But with such an enormous catalog, Jerry’s Artarama told the team of experts at ChannelAdvisor that listing and promoting products on e-commerce channels had been a tedious, time-consuming task. Stawicki told ChannelAdvisor that just loading data and keeping track of 50,000 SKUs on Amazon was overwhelming enough — not to mention all of the additional steps it takes to get those products in front of purchase-ready shoppers.
“The hardest part is product visibility and standing out among other sellers,” he says. “It’s a challenge to get your products out there in front of the consumer on Amazon, and to be the one the consumer clicks on.”
For a while, Jerry’s Artarama in-house staff handled all of the work associated with online selling. There was a lot of manual work and hands-on labor. So when the company discovered ChannelAdvisor, it was truly transformational for the company. Suddenly, with the e-commerce platform’s Self-Service Marketplaces solution, getting up and running on marketplaces was no longer an overwhelming endeavor.
“It’s the most robust offer out there,” Stawicki says of the decision to use ChannelAdvisor. “The amount of services offered, and the ability to add new marketplaces is huge. Just having everything under a central hub rather than finding different solutions for different needs is the biggest selling point.”
Stawicki says Jerry’s Artarama is always ready to adopt the next best strategy. Which means it wasn’t long before the company graduated from Self-Service Marketplaces to Managed Services for Amazon Advertising.
Today, Jerry’s team works with ChannelAdvisor’s Amazon Advertising specialists to fine-tune a mix of Sponsored Brand, Sponsored Product and Sponsored Display campaigns. In addition to designing highly targeted advertising and keyword bidding strategies, the ChannelAdvisor Managed Services team works with Jerry’s Artarama to segment products, optimize data, set goals, track performance and more. Along with weekly reporting and status updates, ChannelAdvisor’s digital marketing experts frequently provide strategic guidance on new opportunities and ideas.
According to Stawicki, putting trust in ChannelAdvisor’s Managed Services was the best decision his business could have made — with or without a disruptive e-commerce event. Year after year, Stawicki reports that the ChannelAdvisor Managed Services team takes the company’s Amazon presence to new levels of success — both for items sold through Jerry’s Artarama, and through their additional brand known as the Art Materials Company of America.
In the midst of major industry disruption, that partnership paid off in new and unanticipated ways. At a time when many brands and retailers were struggling to stay afloat, Jerry’s Artarama reports its Amazon business nearly tripled.
The reason? As stay-at-home orders drove millions more consumers to purchase art supplies online, Jerry’s Artarama products were front and center.
“We had more than 20,000 Amazon orders in the first two weeks of April alone — crushing the 7,091 we saw during the entire December peak holiday shopping season,” Stawicki said.
Moving forward, Jerry’s Artarama plans to work with the ChannelAdvisor Managed Services team to create Amazon Brand Stores for all 14 of the company’s sub brands. With ChannelAdvisor by their side, employees can quickly act on new Amazon Advertising opportunities to continually help drive the business forward.
And because the company can make marketplace updates fast, it’s easy to stay ahead of the latest consumer trends — no matter how frequently the landscape changes and evolves.
“We have a lot of variations in our products, such as individual paint tubes, so being able to make the parent-children relationship in ChannelAdvisor and then push that over is beyond what anyone else could do,” Stawicki explains. “It’s been so much easier to click on a label and add marketplaces rather than manually adding data.”
Without ChannelAdvisor, he estimates it would take three times as long to look up SKUs and make changes across each marketplace.
“The system is very robust,” Stawicki says. “There are so many things you can customize and so many things that make it so much easier to find all of your product data. It’s truly a one-stop shop.”