Building the Base
Today, the company has two retail showrooms, New York Lighting at 134-136 Bowery Street and The Light House at 162-164 Bowery Street. Each is approximately 8,000 square feet. “Our primary business is imported product, and we also handle most of the major domestic lighting lines,” Fitterman says.
Around the end of the last decade, Lighting New York responded to trends that saw fewer competitors yet more competition for customer attention. The company realized it couldn’t simply be a specialist in products like expensive chandeliers or offer only one department of product. Lighting New York saw that it needed to offer a wider variety of products to suit all areas of the home.
“The diversification tactic has worked well for our company,” Fitterman says. “We have since been able to establish ourselves as a top retail provider for residential homeowners.”
Lighting New York’s product portfolio now includes a wide selection of products from the best-known lighting manufacturers in the industry. Products include everything from top-of-the-line designer fixtures by Visual Comfort; the affordable, high-quality Kichler line; and Elk Lighting’s sophisticated product line to extravagant Schonbek crystal chandeliers; historically accurate Framburg reproduction fixtures; contemporary Fanimation energy-efficient fans; and ornate Savoy House outdoor lanterns.
For its featured brands, Lighting New York offers risk-free shopping that includes no sales tax – excluding items being shipped to Pennsylvania – free shipping for items costing more than $49 in the contiguous United States for all Risk-Free brands, and free returns except for items requiring shipment via a freight carrier, clearance items and closeout items. For its other brands, free shipping still applies to all items costing more than $49 sent via UPS or FedEx in the contiguous United States, and the company offers no sales tax on orders shipping outside of Pennsylvania.
Work the Web
What has really allowed the company to provide these services on a wide basis is its e-commerce platform. What started around 2007 with college kids scanning product pictures into a website has grown ever since Lighting New York partnered with a Pennsylvania-based company that has helped it establish a strong niche in the world of e-commerce.
The company’s primary online address is lightingnewyork.com. In addition, it has dozens of web addresses – such as elklightinglights.com and kichlerlightinglights.com – that drive consumers to e-commerce portals for individual vendors.
“We were propelled into the online world because our previous advantage was importing,” Fitterman says.
“Importing used to allow us to exclusively access what others could not, but the Internet now levels that playing field,” he continues.
As part of the company’s effort to enhance its e-commerce operation, Lighting New York recently purchased and renovated a building specifically for its web team. By bringing all of its e-commerce expertise together into a single location, the company can provide a better experience for employees and customers.
Lighting New York understands that it cannot try to be everything to everyone. The company offers product with middle to upper-end price points. It will continue to look for ways to reach higher-end customers that want to differentiate their homes.
“We go after consumers who are looking for the latest styles and trends, and we try to provide them with the best merchandising, service and salesmanship that is available,” Fitterman says.
“There is a lot of information out there, and we get to know the leading vendors by working closely with them,” he adds. “Through online and in-showroom training, our vendors help educate us on their products and make sure our salespeople are up to date and able to answer consumer questions.”
As it looks to the future, Lighting New York will continue to operate its brick-and-mortar stores in ways that will help it to get the best profit margin by finding ways to sell more high-profit SKUs to each customer. It will look for opportunities to expand its physical footprint, but only choosing to expand when the timing is right.
Meanwhile, Lighting New York will also continue to seek growth on the Internet. The company plans to find ways to increase marketshare through higher sales of lower-margin product.
“I think we are on track with our online efforts, as our new initiatives and strong team can help us to be one of the biggest lighting retailers on the web,” Fitterman says. “We have proven that we can grow, and by 2016 we want the company to be around 20 to 30 percent bigger than it is now.”