Who are we and what is our purpose, you ask? We create, honor and preserve traditions by connecting our customers with their most cherished memories.
While fulfilling this purpose, we happen to have become the world's largest supplier of old and new china, crystal, silver, and collectibles. Our 455,800 square-foot facilities (the size of seven football fields!) house an astounding inventory of 13.3 million pieces in more than 350,000 patterns, some more than 100 years old! We continue to add more and more of these items to our web site, and update the inventory at www.replacements.com each day – so remember to visit us when you are looking for a special or hard-to-find piece!
How did something like this get started? In the 1970s, Bob Page, founder and owner of Replacements, Ltd., began collecting china and crystal on weekends while working as an auditor for the state of North Carolina.
As friends learned of his interest in china and crystal, they asked him to be on the lookout for particular dinnerware patterns they needed as well as pieces they had lost or broken. Bob quickly found himself devoting more and more time to his hobby, often staying up until the early morning hours to fill orders. Bob stored the china and crystal in his attic, while his bedroom served as his office.
In 1981, he left his auditing career and began Replacements, Ltd. with one part-time assistant. Tremendous response from small ads placed in national shelter magazines such as Southern Living and Better Homes and Gardens dramatically expanded his list of potential dinnerware customers. Customer dinnerware requests were recorded on 3x5 index cards, which eventually grew to a computer database containing pattern and piece requests for more than 10 million customers worldwide. Sales at Replacements, Ltd. in 1981 reached $150,000 and by 1984 were close to $4 million. In fiscal 2008, sales exceeded $85 million.
Replacements began a conversion to computers in 1984 and now our processes are fully automated. More than 550 personal and laptop computers connect to two mainframe servers, which store information for more than 13.3 million individual pieces in more than 350,000 patterns – the largest inventory of china, crystal, silver, and collectibles in the world.
Each week, 70,000 pieces of china, crystal, silver, and collectibles are shipped to Replacements, Ltd. from a network of more than 700 independent suppliers. Each piece is carefully hand-inspected and then assigned a location on one of 50,000 shelves in our main facility and three additional warehouses. The new inventory is then logged into our computer system and specially developed software matches the pieces with customer requests. Many of these requests come as a result of our industry-leading “Find This for Me” service, which was featured in an article in the Wall Street Journal in 2009. Customers register pieces and patterns they need, and our buyers search the items out. There is no charge for the service, and no obligation to purchase.
Combination customer notification/order forms are then printed and mailed or e-mailed, notifying each Replacements, Ltd. customer of the pieces available in their pattern(s). More than 3.5 million of these notifications are sent out each month.
Replacements, Ltd. customers place orders by phone, web, e-mail, FAX, or mail. The orders are distributed to our fulfillment area to be pulled, inspected, and then shipped to the customer. Items shipped from Replacements, Ltd. carry a satisfaction guarantee. Customers may return items for any reason, no questions asked, within 30 days.
In June 1998, Replacements, Ltd. launched a web site - www.replacements.com - that enabled customers to identify and register their patterns online and receive free information regarding a wide range of tableware and collectible products. We received 1,991 visitors to our site during our first month online in June 1998 and for the first time in November 2003 we received more than 1 million web site visits. In just more than four years, direct and indirect sales from our web site have grown to account for approximately 50% of annual revenue. Since March 1999, we have also e-mail enabled 5 million customers in our database. Developed internally by a team of employees including the owner, Bob Page, the site was selected by Internet Retailer Magazine as a “Top 25 Web Site For 2002”. Other web sites that received this honor from Internet Retailer for 2002 include Amazon.com, L.L. Bean, Williams-Sonoma, E-Bay, Circuit City, and Eddie Bauer. In 2008 Internet Retailer named Replacements, Ltd. Number 164 in its “Top 500 Guide” to e-retailers among more than 10,000 retail web sites currently operating in the U.S.
In independent benchmarking performed in October 2002 by Dr. Jon Anton and the Benchmark Portal web site research team at Purdue University, the Replacements.com web site outscored the Fortune 50 Web Site Composite Average in categories including home page design, navigation, and overall design, while managing nearly 1 million online SKUs. More than 5 million customers have registered their china, crystal, silver, and collectible patterns and/or ordered online since our site's inception. In addition to the world’s largest selection of old and new dinnerware, the Replacements, Ltd. web site includes a large image library, in-depth dinnerware knowledge base, online tour, pattern identification tools, and more.
Maintaining an impeccable reputation and providing the best possible service to Replacements Ltd. customers, whether offline or online, has always been the basis of Bob Page's philosophy of business. This philosophy supplies a strong foundation for growth at Replacements, Ltd. and a bright future as well.