Software Series: Virtual Closet Operation

By Bill Esler | Posted: 09/18/2011 3:56PM

 

Can you run a custom closet business without ever traveling to see your clients or installing a closet? Yes, with the right software and market positioning.

Joe Bergamo, owner of the Middletown, NJ-based Closet Organizers USA, says consumers have grown increasingly comfortable with online buys. So planning and ordering closets on the web, working remotely with planners they never meet, is not a problem.


"It surprises me how customers will order from us without ever contacting us by phone," Bergamo says. "We have been operating the site for seven years, and have three designers working with customers," he explains. "We can ship anywhere in the U.S."

Without a showroom, the virtual presentation of design options and inspirations becomes very important. So Bergamo has put together a digital portfolio catalog that is beautifully photographed and laid out. . .but designed to be read only online. Once customers are excited by the possiblities, they move to the online application.

Instead of buying a program, "We wrote the software ourselves," Bergamo says. Launching an online consumer planning tool so early in the online market was extremely venturesome. Customers input basic dimensions from a base menu (walk-in or reach-in, laminate color, door style, etc.) and are given an estimate in seconds.

Bergamo has put emphasis on promoting Closet Organizers USA's online visibility. In addition to search engine optimization of the site, the business was reviewed by the influential Thrifty Wifey bloggist, Laura. Three postings tracked the life of Laura's closet before, during and after her Closet Organizers USA makeover.

"In the process of trying to decide what to do with our closet, we did check out our local hardware store and looked at the prebuilt system," Laura notes. "But to be honest…it’s difficult to fit those! Not every closet is the same layout or size so what you see on the cover of the box nine times out of 10 won’t be what your own finished results will be."

Laura tested Closet Organizer's online design utility, then opted instead to work directly with a designer by phone. "If your closet layout is like mine, you may not be able to use one of the preset templates," she said.

Bergamo offers Sidelines hardware and panels and shelving made of 3/4 inch thick fine-particle melamine laminate. "We use 2mm edge banding for a beautiful finished edge on all our closet organizers shelving and vertical panels," Bergamo notes. "Our drawer boxes are made of solid wood (7/16 inches thick) with dovetail construction on all four corners."

 

About the Author

Bill Esler, Woodworking Network, WMS

Bill Esler

Bill Esler, Editorial Director, Woodworking Network Bill is responsible for overall content at WoodworkingNetwork.com Woodworking Network magazine, and related newsletters. Bill also manages event programs for Woodworking Network Live conferences at the Woodworking Machinery & Supplies Expo in Toronto and Cabinets & Closets Expo. He developing audience engagement programs using custom digital printing, live lead-generating events, custom websites, and custom digital and print content. Read Bill Esler's woodworking blogs. He can be reached at besler@woodworkingnetwork.com or follow him on Google+.

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