OtterBox smartphone cases are No. 1 in sales in North America as of this writing, according to Otter Products Inc. The Fort Collins, Colorado-based manufacturer makes protective cases for many types of mobile technology devices. Adding the cases to your retail business is not complicated. But in this highly competitive market -- some $1 billion for cell-phone cases alone -- you must be prepared to live up to OtterBox's requirements for pricing, marketing and sales reporting.
How -- and Whether -- to Sign Up
A reseller application form is posted on the OtterBox website. According to an OtterBox spokeswoman, the company looks for "strong partners that are going to push our brand as any of us would." There is little to help you forecast your prospective profit, however. Competition is fierce in the tech-gadget market, and OtterBox holds its competitive intelligence as close to its chest as its mascot holds a clam, disclosing nothing about the types of shops that produce high sales, OtterBox's minimum order, its product range requirements or its policy for unsold stock.
Evaluating Sales Prospects
Of the many brands of tech-gadget cases a shop could carry, OtterBox is one of the more solid choices. OtterBox cases are highly functional for protecting mobile tech devices, a characteristic that separates it from cases that sell style alone. The focus on function makes OtterBox cases less vulnerable to consumer whims than companies offering fashion-dependent designs. OtterBox targets middle- to high-income users and has to maintain a polished image. Thus, product pricing is a big part of OtterBox's business plan and profits. You must abide by OtterBox's minimum and maximum price range to become a dealer.
OtterBox's name is well known, and the company fights hard to maintain its copyrights and trademarks in court. Those efforts extend to resellers, too. OtterBox offers an online library of images for resellers' use, and promotional and display images must be OtterBox's own, unaltered except for size. The reseller has to be able to keep records of bar codes and serial numbers so they are available on request. The company forbids resales in quantity, and it keeps tight restrictions on websites on which the cases may be sold. It bans eBay sales altogether.
You can be involved in OtterBox sales in other ways besides being a reseller. If your store is online, you can carry a lighter paperwork burden by becoming an OtterBox affiliate -- that is, a commissioned advertiser. The program is for website publishers. You put OtterBox banner advertising on your website, and the independent click-tracking company Commission Junction follows any customer who uses the ad to get to OtterBox's website. If that customer buys an OtterBox product within 30 days, you receive a 10 percent commission.