Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Retailer Spotlight – JetPens

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Jet Pens

We are reintroducing the Rhodia Drive Retailer Spotlight!

To start us off in the inaugural spot is the fan favorite JetPens. You will find a large assortment of Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Brause and J. Herbin over at www.JetPens.com. If you’ve never heard of them or you’re a long time customer here’s your chance to get to know JetPens a little better.

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Thank you for taking time out of your day to chat with us about JetPens today. The website has really taken off in the past couple of years and your presence is felt throughout the blogging community and pen fans everywhere.

RhodiaDrive: How did JetPens get started?

JetPens: While finishing our last year at Stanford University in 2005, my friends and I wanted to start a business together.  We spent a good amount of time searching for the right business concept and eventually decided to embark on our entrepreneurial journey with a focus on imported Japanese writing instruments.  We pooled our savings together as the seed funding, and budgeted most of it for the initial batch of inventory.

individual

We launched our site 2 months after we incorporated the business.  I remember sitting in our student union, watching 3 orders coming in online on the first day after we spammed our friends on Facebook.  We kept our inventory underneath my dorm bed and started fulfilling orders from campus.

RD: It’s quite impressive to see where JetPens is today and how it came to be. Just 2 dreamers.

JP: To this date, JetPens remains founder-owned and operated.

RD: Your logo is very interesting and I think many people recognize the logo whenever they see it. How did that come about?

Jet Pens
The Logo

JP: When I conceptualized the logo, I really wanted to incorporate a mascot into the design.  Back then, the popular British BBC TV show Teletubbies inspired me to create a mascot with flabby limbs and bright-color outfit.  Thus our endearing Jetdo was born.

RD: The Teletubbies! I don’t think many people would’ve guessed that.

JP: I gave him a pair of glasses to represent the “nerdiness” the JetPens team has when it comes to our writing instruments.  Over the years, our customers have sent us lots of fan art of Jetdo; it’s a joy for us to see how Jetdo has touched so many people.

RD: Speaking about the customers and the fans, JetPens has really become a place people trust and a go to store for many people. How important is fan outreach to you?

JP: Without a doubt, our fans are the reason for our existence and in turn, fan outreach is extremely important to us.  With respect to merchandising, we formalized a way for customers to give new product suggestions to our buyers.  On the supply chain side, we work with manufacturers to improve product design based on customers’ feedback.  In terms of PR, we have established long-lasting friendships with our sponsored bloggers and continue to look for more pen / paper / ink aficionados with whom to collaborate.

JetPens makes connecting with their fans easy
You can find JetPens on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and more

RD: What do you think really separates JetPens from the competitors and what have you done to continue the growth and expansion of your website?

JP: First of all, we love our competitors because they keep us sharp and energized; we have lots to learn from established industry giants as well as innovative newcomers.  In order to set ourselves apart from other companies in similar market niches, we aim to differentiate ourselves on 3 aspects: highly curated production selection, best-in-class shopping experience, and top-notch customer service.

Our merchandising team scours far and wide for great products that serve our customers’ needs.  Our content team goes the extra mile to create informative and educational product descriptions to help customers choose or discover exactly what they want.

JetPens' Blog
JetPens’ Blog

Our technology team continuously makes site improvements to ease shopping flow. Our order fulfillment team ships out customers’ orders quickly and accurately.  The 3,000+ reviews on our Google TrustedStore page can attest to the above.

RD: And all of those reviews with the great customer service and quick accurate shipping is especially important since JetPens is an exclusively online retailer. Do you find it easier or more difficult selling some items that need to be touched and examined before buying?

JP: Online shopping is still growing and there will be many innovations to facilitate better shopping experience online as opposed to offline.  On one hand, it is true that tactile experience does help convince a first-time customer who never used our products before to make a purchase.  On the other hand, the products in our range are very standardized, so once customers try them once they will return for more and enjoy the same quality they experienced the first time.

JetPens' wide range of Rhodia products
JetPens’ wide range of Rhodia products

RD: Are there any plans to open a store front?

JP: No plans at this point.

RD: JetPens has such a wide range of Rhodia, Clairefontaine and J. Herbin products. How or when did you decide that it was important to stock almost the entire lines for these brands?

JP: We still have room to grow, especially with beautiful brands like Rhodia, Clairefontaine, and J. Herbin.  As we filled customers’ demand for various items from these three brands, we slowly increased our SKU count over the years.

We were actually pretty late to the game of paper products; we didn’t start offering notebooks until the spring of 2009, about 4 years into the business.  We wanted to do well in our native product category of writing instruments before expanding onto others.  Over the course of first 4 years, we received many earnest requests from our diehard fans to bring in paper products.  Amongst the product lines requested, Rhodia and Clairefontaine led the pack and it was really a no-brainer for us to introduce them as some of our first paper offerings.   We also started trying out bottled inks in early 2009.  Again, J. Herbin was such a fan favorite that we had to include it in our opening range of ink products.

J. Herbin Fountain Pen ink on JetPens
J. Herbin Fountain Pen ink on JetPens

One specific note on Rhodia: I had seen many of my college classmates using the popular classic No. 12 notepad back in college.  But, it was not until attending a trade show in Tokyo did I become exposed to the entire Rhodia line.  I learned how specialized each SKU was and wanted to share my discovery with JetPens customers, too.  Ever since we brought in the line, we’ve been very impressed by Rhodia’s continual product innovations.  For example, the rollout of the DotPad design was very well received by our customers.

Rhodia dotPads
Rhodia dotPads

RD: You may have joined the paper game late but you’re definitely here to stay. Where do you see the future of notebooks headed?

JP: Foremost, I firmly believe that paper notebooks will continue to reside in a special spot in the hearts of users; digital tablets will never replace them.  Two trends seem to show a promising future: specialization and integration.

RD: I think you hit on something important with specialization of products now and how all of us from the manufacturer and distribution side to the retailers and down to the end users can think outside the box to see how this paper notebook can fit in a digital culture.

JP: I can see a wide variety of notebooks that have best-of-breed characteristics for their intended purposes.  For examples: there should be notebooks with luxurious paper for fountain pen usage, or notebooks with durable cover for everyday carry, or notebooks with particular sheet styles for technical purposes.  Integration will also be important, in my opinion.  I’m actually already seeing notebooks being integrated into bags and cases, as well as file folders and pen pouches being added to notebooks.

RD: So what’s next for JetPens?

JP: We have a few awesome fan outreach programs that will be revealed in time later this year.  In terms of long-term vision, we hope to expand our product offering to include more and more highly sought-after yet hard-to-find products.

RD: Thank you very much for your time. This was fun and I think the readers have enjoyed this. We look forward to seeing where JetPens goes next and we’re excited to be a part of it!

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For more information on JetPens check their blog http://www.jetpens.com/blog daily.

Make sure to browse all the Rhodia, Clairefontaine, J. Herbin, and Brause products on www.jetpens.com and take advantage of their free shipping on orders over $25.


One thought on “Retailer Spotlight – JetPens

  1. Thanks for this! When I placed my first order with JP, I had no idea they were based down the road in San Jose, and now the Stanford connection makes a lot of sense. Great company that fills a niche not quite covered by other retailers and etailers.

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