Can You Make Money With Smart Living Company (SLC)?
Can you make money with Smart Living Company (Previously SMC)?
For those searching for SMC (Specialty Merchandise Corp) with famous spokesperson Tom Bosley from the show Happy Days: In April 2012 SMC announced a change in name from SMC to Smart Living Company. This article has been updated to reflect the new name as well as incorporated information on other more recent changes.
Of course there is potential out there just like any other program. So what are the chances you will go from never having sold anything like this before to one of those very wealthy top ranking Smart Living Company sales person. Not very good to be completely honest but why not be fair to the system and actually learn about it before we judge it.
I have been using Smart Living Company for over 10 years. I have used this for a side income and average about $2,000-$4,000 in sales per year the last 6+ years. I would not call that a smashing success but I sure would not call it a failure by any means. One year when I was able to stay at home and dedicate more time to my sales I averaged much higher sales. While I really enjoy selling online it is not as reliable as a steady paycheck. Any successful business requires time and dedication.
On weeks where I only put in 2 to 4 hours of real effort I see about $30-$700 in sales which is at worst case $15.00 per hour and best case $350.00 per hour in sales for my efforts. This of course does not take into consideration for any costs associated with those sales. My costs are purely based on online and in person cash and carry sales only. I do not have a brick and mortar location. The venue in which you advertise and sell your merchandise has a huge impact on your expenses. If you are hunting for one of those set it up and wait for the money to just roll in with no more work that is not what selling any product is like typically and home and garden decor is no exception to that.
Having researched SMC (as it was at the time when I started) quite a bit before I decided to do it I went ahead even though I could find thousands of individuals who claimed it was a scam.
The problem with most of the claims are that so many are ill informed in their decision making. You can tell from their discussions or claims that they did not follow the plan laid out on either the website or the descriptions in the infomercials. Commercials sound bites are just to promote a specific product or service so an individual should keep that in mind as they listen to how wonderful a system that can make you wealthy nearly overnight.
As they say, if it is too good to be true it probably is. A statistic that is rarely proven incorrect. Does that mean it is not worth trying? Absolutely not! It just means you should develop a good business plan (think big and optimistically but plan realistically with achievable figures) before you begin. Consider it very similar to setting a difficult New Year's resolution or deciding to go back to school for a new career at a late age. Like those life challenges you have set for yourself you can begin making money using Smart Living Company successfully if you are truly prepared to do the work involved.
Now that we have answered the "Can you make money with Smart Living Company" question with a "yes" let us explore how you can.
Smart Living Company Basics?
Smart Living Company is a service that more or less is like any other drop shipper service. One exception is they are not like companies like Doba which simply provide you a system that connects you to the manufacturer or company who has the product and charge you a fee for it. Those types of companies are more or less brokers while Smart Living Company actually buys and warehouses thousands of products and mass orders catalogs and supplies you can use to sell their products.
Smart Living Company buys products from many manufacturers in the home and garden décor industry and pick up various items that are shown on television or maybe they find a way to bargain for good prices on close out products. Some examples of the brands they may carry are Home Locomotion, Cloudworks, Natural Solution, Wyland, Harley Davidson and Sesame Street just to name a very few.
It is important that before you jump into something like this that you understand what you are getting into. I will go into more details on how Smart Living Company works and how you can make money using Smart Living Company as your drop shipping provider.
I want to give you just a little background history for myself to help you understand my experience level prior to my signing up for Smart Living Company. I have actually been selling online for about 8 years starting out on eBay and expanding to my own sites for extra cash on the side. That being said I have had some experience with the get rich schemes out there and "it’s so easy that it sells itself" type of programs so I didn't go into Smart Living Company expecting to get rich.
Since I had been "scammed" before I thought I should check it out in detail before I tried it and of course I called my mother who had been a member in the past to get some well needed advice. I am glad I did before I signed up so I knew what to expect. My most successful ventures have been selling home décor items and Tupperware.
Smart Living Company is specialty merchandise (primarily home and garden décor) provider that gives you the option of buying from them and having the item "drop shipped" directly to the person you are selling to or ordering in bulk directly to you for you to resale either in a "brick and mortar" business, door to door, or kiosk and similar to Tupperware or Avon you can get catalogs and host parties or go to the distribution center and make large purchases and not have a shipping expense.
Smart Living Company has many options for purchasing as I said you can actually drive there to pick up your order, order online, mail in an order, phone in an order or fax your order. They do not charge a "drop ship" fee while I can assure you there are lots of wholesale drop shippers who charge anywhere from $1.00 per order to $8.00 per order to simply ship the item for you or broker the deal between you and the manufacturer plus you still pay for shipping.
Now if you are selling at a party or door to door this may not be an issue if you order all items at once and deliver them personally which of course this is not likely to be a problem if you sell in a brick and mortar store.
When you sign up you will get access to the Smart Living Company website that is searchable like any other website, has a nice menu with links and the front page is full of links taking you to resourceful areas of the site and to the lowest cost products.
After December 11, 2016 they no longer have specialty kits but they do now offer regular promotions and have added a promotions link to their menu.
When they had specialty kits they would group together specific items that you could order in bulk. These kits were great for having a party, setting up at flea markets, or selling in a brick and mortar location. In the past I bought them and focused my eBay listings or my advertising on those items for my local area ads where I could deliver and not have to charge shipping since these increased sales.
UPDATED 04/30/2018: The costs involved if you purchase the membership online or if you are going to call in be sure to find out what they are offering currently. Currently you can choose from two different options online.
Old Option 1 - Buyer's Club sign up was replaced by the option to just sign up as a shopper. I could not find any indication of a discount for this option so if anyone knows and would like to share please let me know. (Note: This is the old info on the "Buyer's Club" Free membership, 20% discount on purchases, No membership kit, no live personal business consultation, customer service available by email only but it does let you buy online plus you can take advantage of the same drop shipping as other plans.)
Option 1 - "Premiere" - NOW: $19.95 one-time sign-up fee and $5.95 a month but previously it was $19.95 a month for membership. Discount off of MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) remains 30% (was previously 40% 2+ years ago) and includes membership kit, one (1) hour a month of live personal business consultation, Forum & Advice access, customer services available via phone and email.
Option 2 - "Enterprise" - NOW: $39.95 one-time sign-up fee and $9.95 a month for membership but previously it was $39.95 a month for membership. Up to 66% (was 66%) discount on purchases off of MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) and includes membership kit, unlimited live personal business consultation, Forum & Advice access, customer services available via phone and email.
Membership fees are non-refundable however you can upgrade at any time. Downgrades and/or cancellation will take effect at the end of the billing period paid for last but you can downgrade or cancel at any time with no penalty.
For individuals who signed up before the name change you will continue to have an annual fee unless you let it lapse for too long and no monthly charges. If it lapses for even a day then it costs more to renew the first time after the lapse. Although it costs more it is still much cheaper to resume the grandfathered in plan than the newer monthly charges.
Monthly fees generally end up costing you more than an annual fee even with the new rates. I know how desperate you can feel when you are down and out financially but with the new lower monthly rates it is much more feasible to get started in this program. Although that is not enough to make you successful by itself if you are a highly motivated sales person who isn't afraid to go up and ask someone for a sale face to face there are so many opportunities waiting for you. This still leaves a new business with a long road ahead filled with many hurdles.
There are many reasons that is true but the biggest one is the massive costs involved in operating an online store and/or getting it set up if you do not have website design skills or a lot of time on your hands to learn it. I will cover more of that when I do the segment "How can I sell Smart Living Company online?"
After you sign up for one of the plans with a monthly fee you will receive a welcome kit and up to 8 weeks of a personal coach access via phone and internet. If you do not have a phone or internet this will be a hard business to do but not impossible because you can mail orders in however that would limit the type of sales you could perform to brick and mortar or flea market type sales.
Catalogs are fairly reasonably priced ranging from $.25 to $5.00 each depending on which catalog and lower during clearance times/end of the season or when you order in bulk. You will receive one of each catalog available when you get your kit along with a white price list book which is your prices and a yellow price list which is a price list you would use to provide wholesale pricing to sub-wholesalers under you or maybe to a school or business who is making a really large purchase or businesses who want to resale the products.
It is very important to work closely with your personal coach during that first few weeks. Do not make the mistakes many others have of letting this time lapse while you sit on your hands and waiting for the money to magically roll in because it just doesn't work that way. I cannot stress enough the need to take advantage of the personal coach early on! I personally failed to utilize my coach back when I started however I learned a lot from that experience.
There are some very useful tools that I will add more about throughout the page to help you get an idea of what is available to help you succeed or maybe you have been trying to sell Smart Living Company but aren't doing as well as you hoped. This page can help you make the decision to use Smart Living Company or not use Smart Living Company without pushing onto you some other product. I remember looking for just plain English advice and reading thousands of posts and comments that nearly all ended with "I found something better go to such and such site" type remarks. I do sell Smart Living Company however I am just passing along some useful information that I thought was important in making that final decision.
Looking for an connection without the commitment?
HNG Wholesale allows free access to the same products. For more information visit the F.A.Q at http://www.hngwholesale.com/faq.html
A look at the Smart Living Company site
How can you start selling Smart Living Company products online?
The biggest questions I have heard about selling Smart Living Company online:
1. How can I sell Smart Living Company products online?
2. How hard is it to succeed selling Smart Living Company online?
3. What do I need to sell online?
These are hard questions to answer because it all depends on what your investment levels are in money, skills, time, and motivation.
I am speaking purely from experience here and you can take the advice anyway you want to but if you do choose to sell online then you should pick a category that is abundant in products that you can relate to in some way. If you like to work in the garden then focus on that but if you are really good at maybe flowers and styling flower décor then you might want to focus on their flowers and their vases. The more written content you can give a website without paying for it the better off you will be. If this is sounding a bit Greek to you already then you may want to seek out sources for SEO tips.
Smart Living Company has a partnership with a place called emerchantclub.com and you can get a fully functional website up and going with them for a nice hefty price tag. I contacted them and a little over 3 years ago it was around $1500 for the complete setup of a deluxe package so I passed and decided to do it on my own. Well let me tell you it can be pretty darn rough in the beginning to create your own site and find a way of updating what is or isn't in stock.
This particular partnership that Smart Living Company and eMerchant Club is pretty rock solid because it is the only direct connection that will allow you to get live access to their inventory on the backend. This means that if you go any other method you will be doing more manual work on the website and processing the orders. The bright side with using eMerchant Club is that they do all of the heavy lifting for you and keep things up to date every day all year. It isn't quite set it and forget it but it is as close you will get in a place selling thousands of products.
On a sort of related note the more you sell the more you can make because of their "Super Seller Program" which I will talk about in a different segment however I have heard that once you reach a level high enough to get your own personal account manager you have some potential to getting some help with this area at a much lower cost or possibly for free. Anyone with personal knowledge of how this works when you sell over $2500.00 a year would be welcomed to chime in their experience.
Now you will see advertised that you can get ecatalog sites for free however I missed mine when there was a goof up on my part during my sign up period. I signed up online but then I called because I noticed the free offer of $100 in products if you make your purchase via phone. Sure enough I got billed twice even though the gentleman thought he could cancel the first payment process since I had just submitted the form. Long story short I ended up with 2 account numbers and paid twice but it took them about 30 minutes to call me back with a possible solution that I was ok with and we worked it out and I got my goodies however I didn't make any use of the personal coach until I only had a week of it left which was a learning experience that I hope you will avoid if you become a member. When all was said and done I then canceled the ecatalog subscription that I would have gotten free by mistake. I never bothered with getting it fixed thinking it isn't that big of a deal. It was and is because when you have to make your own pdf catalogs that are fully functionable and allows you to click through to the purchase page it takes some know how or paying someone else.
I used my $100 free products and sold them on eBay to get a feel for how they would sell and as my sort of learning curve. Since then eBay has become a real shark tank for the modest seller however if you don't want to host your own website and pay for advertising there are plenty of free sites like craigslist, kiiji, hoobly, usfreeads, facebook, myspace, and many more locations you can post listings for free or cheaper than eBay however I have yet to find one as reliable and easy to use as eBay plus they bring massive amounts of traffic to their site every day.
If you go with my suggestion to start with of picking one category it will narrow down significantly your manual work on checking inventory levels at Smart Living Company, cut setup time, time adding new products or removing old ones, and time downloading and uploading images. You can learn how it works and within your limited time and funds much easier and create a niche website that is more likely to succeed. Competition is fierce out there no matter what type of products you are selling online. The internet has become home for millions if not billions of individuals hoping to make it rich online.
SLC specials change every 7 to 10 days and most often always give options for shipping discounts and/or free shipping.
This was 2016 World of Products catalog. Older but it gives an idea of what to expect.
Update 04/30/2018 – The standard shipping rate for orders below $30.00 not including shipping/fuel surcharge are now $6.95 plus surcharge of $0.50 or $.90. Over $30.00 it is a percentage based on a zone map.
(Historical shipping cost information: Increase on May 1, 2015 the base shipping fee on all orders changed from $6.50 to $7.95. In 2014 the cost for base shipping charges had decreased from $8.95 to $6.50 by Smart Living Company meaning most items under 1-2 pounds which covers most small dollar items. I am pointing this out because in the following example is based on the $6.50 rate using UPS as your shipping method to calculate the shipping you charge to your clients.)
An example is if you need to ship a product that weighs between one and two pounds, the rate is typically about $9.00 - $12.49 using the UPS calculator while the actual cost is typically $6.95 plus fuel surcharge which is typically about $.50. That is a difference of $1.55 - $5.04 in potential additional profit.
The idea here is to really try to upsell because it is expensive to pay someone to package and ship that one little item and it is basically not making a profit from you selling just one $.95 cent product. You may think this doesn't happen but it does. Often, I get orders online for one very small item and they will gladly pay the $9.00 - $12.49 shipping to get a $1.00 clearance item. Bizarre but very common!
When this happens, you have to honor the sale or you will ruin your reputation so unfortunately unless you either set your online store up to only accept a minimum order and chance losing those little customers or find a way to shift little buyers into big buyers through special offers or strategically design your website so that it places related items all around the cart for example to boost sales. Upsells are one way to achieve success in sales!
New website after they changed names
After the name change the site was launched with a new look. Since then they have again redesigned the site and provided some improvements.
The way you manually download pictures is still a very slow and tedious process.
They still do not offer a product feed exactly however they do have a way to download a csv file now that is generated at the time you try to download it (This is covered in the section partners with eMerchant Club in more detail).
The members report does allow you to search for up to 30 products by sku/product ID but you have to manually input each number. The results are not downloadable but they do tell you what items are in stock by giving a yes for items with more than 100 in stock and the actual amount for those less than 100 in stock. If no results then the item is out of stock and discontinued.
The new warehouse improved shipping times
Initially I was so upset with the shipping delays that lasted more than a month for some of my orders. After a couple of months orders for less than two or three items started shipping quickly. The struggles continued for larger orders for another two to three months.
Currently overall shipping has improved and customers are very happy with the fast shipping. Now orders I place by Noon PST typically are shipped that day or the next morning at the latest. There are always exceptions for very heavy/bulky products
For some reason that I have yet to sort out after all the time since the changes I still do not get emails for all tracking on the orders I place. That being said I can log in and get the tracking information as soon as they create the label so it is only a minor inconvenience to me.
I lost some loyal customers during the warehouse upgrade and for the most part they have not come back. On the other hand, since the warehouse finally worked out the kinks and shipments go out very quickly I have gained new customers.