Corbell Silver: Customer Success Story

 "After switching over to Zoho Commerce, we have got several calls from our customers citing the ease of using the website. It has made payments easier."

- Howard White

President, Corbell Silver

The Company

‌Corbell Silver is a 74-year-old US-based wholesaler of hotel silver, silver-plated items, reproductions, and antiques and supplies to over 1,000 stores. Its current owner, Howard White, purchased it from Mr. Corbell in 2001. Back then, they sold around 200 items. Today, Corbell Silver sells over 8,000 items—specializing in English antique silver, old Sheffield plate, hotel silver, and the finest reproductions and supplies—to over 1,000 stores. While they sell worldwide, their main focus is on the US market.  

The Challenge

As the years passed on, Howard sensed that a huge opportunity lay in online business. But there were many difficulties to start with as Corbell Silver began moving its transactions online. “We always had hassles and problems with other sites," Howard says. "For accounting, we used QuickBooks. For years we had heard of Zoho but had thought it’d be too complicated to use. Something told us we should try it."

The Solution

The team got a trial version of Zoho One and Zoho Commerce, and they found it to be fantastic. "We are happy with the level of automation that has been made possible for our customers today with Zoho."

In the early days of running Corbell Silver, Howard would take pictures of the products and send them to customers by mail for them to place orders. Howard saw a palpable change in his business once all the operations moved online. “The best feature of Zoho Commerce is 'Collections'," he says. "With this, we can send presentations to our customers and inform them about new arrivals. They get an email and can directly place orders from there.”

Another problem was that most of the earlier solutions used by Corbell Silver were restricted to desktop versions. Zoho alleviated this problem for us. Corbell Silver does all its activities pertaining to the business in-house. In fact, Howard is the one responsible for the high-resolution pictures that have helped the website stand out. “I have a good white background set and take the pictures myself," he says. "We have around 100 categories. Though Zoho did not have those many categories, we solved the issue with a side bar. The tech support team in Zoho helped us with the design, and we were able to make a great website.” Corbell now uses several Zoho products like Campaigns, Sheets, and Creator on a daily basis.

Benefits and ROI

After switching over to Zoho Commerce, Corbell Silver has been receiving several calls from its customers citing the ease of using the website. "It has made payments easier," Howard says. He goes on to explain how data entry was made hassle-free while switching to Commerce. "We had entered around 6,500 items on Zoho One, and within a few seconds they got transferred to Zoho Commerce. It’s incredible how it saved us a lot of time."

Trends have changed over the years as well, which has been reflected in what people are looking for when they arrive at Corbell's website. “Things were more elaborate in the past and it reflected in the choice of items people bought as well," Howard says. "Today, people like to keep it plain and simple. Our products are manufactured according to the requirements of the customer. For instance, while we might still sell a lot of the items we sold 20 years back, we might not advertise them as much. We have more of those products that are needed in today’s times. The truth is that there is always a market for silver. It never really goes out of fashion. It still holds great appeal.”

While the popularity of elaborate silverware remains unabated among the older generation, the brand has also made inroads among the youngsters. “We have seen many grandparents buy baby spoons for their newborn grandchildren," Howard says. "Many people who grew up with particular silverware as kids want the same for their children too.” Corbell Silver has also helped many hotels in England refurbish their silver and make them look brand new.

Looking Forward

Howard believes that the pandemic has not adversely affected their business. “In fact, we are busier than ever before and have had an incredible year. The hotels are placing their orders and customers from all avenues are reaching out to us. Online sales have been quite encouraging too. “We sell a lot online now," Howard says. "We also encourage our customers to buy online. If they want to know what we have, we send a link to our website and tell them to have a look.”

Corbell Silver also has an affordable line. “We sell by the hour," Howard says. "Around 50% of our products are antiques; they are one of a kind. Another 50% are manufactured. Over 10% of our products are sourced from India and 90% of them are made in England.”

Howard began his work in this line when he was 16. “I know these products like the back of my hand by now. Experience tells you what exactly to design and what people want. Of course, nothing is guaranteed, but we do our best.”

While new markets are tempting, Howard feels his hands are full in the US. “It takes up a lot of our time. I am 64 today and hope to continue for another decade. Hopefully, Zoho will make this journey easier for us.”

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