Retail Watch: Thirty-One Gifts Says It’s On The Rebound

By Tim Feran
The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “Thirty-One Gifts” uses an army of sales consultants selling personalized boutique items in house parties as the backbone of its direct-sales business. Cindy Monroe, the founder of Thirty-One discusses how the company was able to get back on course after a downturn.

The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

Personal attention has long been a big piece of the retailer tool box, and it’s become even more critical in an era when customers demand what they want when they want it and where they want it.

It’s something that Columbus-based Thirty-One Gifts believes is its competitive edge.

“I actually think we have the advantage here over Amazon or e-commerce,” said Cindy Monroe, founder, president and CEO of Thirty-One.

“We have understood the customer experience for a really long time.”

“We already understand how to connect with customers. Our biggest risk is going to far the other way into digital.

The problem in online is it’s hard to create that personal experience. For us, if we do online, it’s still an online party where (sales) consultants are personalizing the product, helping (customers) create a gift.”

Thirty-One Gifts uses an army of sales consultants selling personalized boutique items in house parties as the backbone of its direct-sales business.

The business recently went through a cycle of growth, decline and resurgence that Monroe spoke of during the company’s recent annual sales conference at Nationwide Arena.

A decade after its founding in 2003, company revenue peaked at $763 million. In 2014, revenue dropped to $643 million, then fell again in 2015 to $516 million and again in 2016 to a level that the privately held company has not disclosed.

“We were growing so fast we didn’t necessarily see it coming,” she said. “We weren’t sure it was a bump or new trend.”

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