The concept of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) isn’t new; several online livestock retailers are well known for this practice. Less well known perhaps is that some livestock wholesalers also have private WYSIWYG offerings for retailers to browse; no doubt this provides a superior shopping experience than simply ordering from a list.
Sea Dwelling Creature’s “Furnace” is perhaps one of the first examples of a wholesaler making WYSIWYG offerings publicly viewable; for example here’s the SDC Furnace Gallery. That said, SDC is not really promoting this directly to the end consumer as a way to “cherry pick” your personal corals from SDC through your retailer. Granted, you probably *could* see something in the Furnace and ask your shop to get it.
In another example, Sustainable Aquatics has brought WYSIWYG offerings to their wholesale clients through video offerings showing the various one-of-a-kind pairs of fish. These videos aren’t publicly shared, which means that the average aquarist isn’t going to be cherry picking a pair of clownfish from Sustainable Aquatics.
This fall, two companies have taken this concept a step further, offering unparalleled partnership between a wholesale provider and their retailers to offer straight-from-the-source WYSIWYG offerings that the public can select from, and order, through their retailer. Wholesale pricing is obviously not disclosed on these sites to the general public, but the message is clear – retailers are being given a new way to connect buyers with high-end livestock offerings.
Sea & Reef Aquaculture was the first to bring the concept of direct public WYSIWYG wholesale to the marketplace with their offerings of 2nd generation Lightning Maroon Clownfish. The process is straightforward; public customers can freely browse the WYSIWYG offerings directly on the Sea & Reef website. Each fish is individually numbered, so the consumer need only to locate a Sea & Reef dealer to place an order. At least one routine Sea & Reef retailer has even offered to browse the fish with customers in the shop and place the order on the spot.
With numerous fish already sold in just a matter of a couple weeks, we reached out to Soren Hansen of Sea & Reef to ask how this platform has performed so far. “The WYSIWYG has worked really well so far. With an expensive fish like the Lightning Maroon Clownfish hobbyist are reluctant to buy them without seeing them first. At the same time many retail pet stores are reluctant to stock an expensive fish without knowing if there is a match with one of their customers.
The WYSIWYG section of the Sea & Reef website solves that in a beautiful way. Now hobbyists can go to our website and select Lightning Maroon Clownfish with a pattern they like and then purchase it through their local pet store. Our pet store customers are happy because the WYSIWYG concept minimizes their risk and ensures that their customers are happy with their purchase. Now that we have established the WYSIWYG section I can imagine that we will be using it for other fish in the future as well.”
While writing up our story on Sea & Reef, another young but already well known company, Reef Gen, introduced their own publicly accessible WYSIWYG wholesale offerings. This wasn’t much of a stretch, as the entire Reef Gen website appears the same whether you are the public end consumer or a Reef Gen customer. The only difference is that approved wholesale clients who are logged-in see pricing information added throughout the website.
So far, Reef Gen’s WYSIWYG offerings appear limited to particularly high-end offerings, which falls directly in line with the reasons why a company like Sea & Reef have made their highest end fish the first WYSIWYG offerings as well.
The ongoing success of WYSIWYG in retailing has certainly found another level in the wholesaling of fish and coral. This doesn’t come as a total surprise; between the ubiquity of internet access and the ever-falling cost and improving quality of digital photography, will this one day be how we shop for all our livestock? Given that even exporters are now routinely publishing photos of new fish ready for shipment, it’s not a stretch to one day think that WYSIWYG direct from the source could become a reality.
Wholesale suppliers clearly are using these new tools to market themselves while still supporting their retailers. Whether this helps or hurts the LFS remains to be seen, but this new-found transparency and connectedness between producers, suppliers, retailers and the public seems exciting and refreshing.