Kiefers goes big with e-commercePublished 11:35am Monday, April 1, 2013
Some residents of Fergus Falls might be surprised to learn that a whole world of international business passes through the city each day.
At Kiefers.com Inc., trade across the world, from Australia to Europe, comes through the wires of a small office on Stanton Avenue.
“It confuses a lot of people because there are so many things being handled and moved out at once,” said owner and president Kurt Kiefer.
Welcome to the world of e-commerce. Kiefers.com is what Kiefer and Vice President Michael Breen describe as the main portal of their business. From the website, customers are connected with the variety of items Kiefers deals in, from auction supplies to chandelier parts to fabric trim. With shipments leaving from Fergus Falls, Moorhead and Grand Forks, the central location of the business in the Midwest allows them to serve every corner of the country.
Kiefers started in the 1980s as an auction supply house. While Kiefer has expanded on the opportunities his business reaches to, the company is still a leader in the world for auction supply.
“If there is anyone who can find opportunity, it’s Kurt,” said Keen of the company’s directive force.
“We love product niches here,” said Kiefer. “If we find a niche, we’re going to try to find a product.”
While part of the business is still getting specialty catalogs in customers hands, Kiefer said since their aggressive move to the Internet in the 90s the business has really become something even bigger.
With the continued expansion of product and markets, business is certainly booming.
“Half of our business will come from businesses we didn’t have two years ago,” said Kiefer.
Perhaps the biggest lesson aspiring business owners can take away from the Kiefers story, however, is not its innovation, its product development or marketing strategy, but the determination it took to work through the initial bumps it takes to be successful on the Internet.
“Most people just don’t invest enough time in it,” said Kiefer, who explained that it took several years for their focus on the Internet to take off.
But even for being primarily an online business, Breen said that their focus on customer service and long standing relationships with clients brings the personal touch shoppers love.
“With every chandelier order you get a cat story or something else that has happened,” said Breen. “But we get a lot of customers coming back asking for what they bought last year and we can get it for them.”
As the business continues to expand, recently acquiring the Kaarskoker brand of decorative candle sleeves for chandeliers, Kiefer will have his eye out searching for even more opportunity.
“We’re not Amazon yet,” said Kiefer. “But maybe someday.”