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Norbar Launches Virtual-Web Sample-Book Program; GM Says: Initial Results Are Excellent

February 20, 2020

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Norbar, a medium-sized, 75-year-old fabric wholesaler with 28 employees, is leading the charge to offer virtual samples on the web as a way to save time and money.

“The response has been incredible,” says Frank Tucci, general manager, and 20-year veteran of the firm. “Two weeks ago, we put samples of a new Norbar leather collection on our website—it’s only sold on the web and we did $10,000 worth of business in no time.”

Norbar GM Frank Tucci

He says the company has 10,000 customers, but it only produces 3,200 sample books of each collection.

“Our reps move those books around,” Tucci says. “With virtual sampling, all of our customers can see the collections whether they have sample books or not.”

 The new virtual books are not meant to replace traditional books, according to Tucci, but allow Norbar sales representatives and customers to send an e-book to a client that is looking for a certain product.

“There are additional benefits to this program from a merchandising standpoint,” he says. “We can create a virtual book of products that are only available on our website.  Samples can then be requested and sent to our clients for review.”
He adds: “Nobody makes 10,000 sample books anymore, so we made the move to offer virtual samples of 32 collections on the internet with eight more on their way in April.”

The new software was developed in Asia and even shows how the patterns are engineered, he explains.

“Our sales reps send the virtual samples ahead to their designer clients; even if they are an hour away by car—they can look them over and narrow things down,” he says. “Then the rep can bring the actual samples to the customer.”

Tucci himself tweaks each product offering online to make certain the colors are as exact as possible, but this also depends on the definition and age of the monitor customers are using.

Tucci says Norbar will test new categories of products in the same way, including textured blackouts before he commits to additional books.

About 24% of the Norbar product is sourced in China, according to Tucci, but so far, “we have had no problems with supply.”


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