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Business warehouse running day and night to fill holiday orders

Jason Apfel, president of the online business,

Jason Apfel, president of the online business, which sells scents and beauty products, on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, showed the box containing all of the company's order forms from 1995 to1999. The company expects revenue of $200 million this year. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

While retailers nationwide are slashing prices to draw in shoppers this holiday season, is just hoping it can keep up with demand.

The Deer Park-based online retailer of designer fragrances, aromatherapy goods and personal beauty products estimates the holiday shopping season makes up roughly 40 percent of its annual sales, and this year the company expects to hit revenue of about $200 million.

Inside their 115,000-square-foot warehouse at 900 Grand Blvd., the flowery scent of thousands of perfumes, gift candles and beauty products is hard to ignore. Eight conveyor belts move products and shipping cartons across the huge space as hundreds of workers pick and pack items off the shelves. The warehouse operates day and night.

"It's been our biggest challenge logistically, because it's such a huge spike in traffic, sales and orders in such a short amount of time," president Jason Apfel said.

From Black Friday through Dec. 20, he said, the business fires on all cylinders, aided this year by a seasonal increase in staffing from the company's normal count of just over 200 to more than 320. It's the most the company has ever hired, Apfel said.

Sales on Cyber Monday were up 70 percent over last year, he said, boosted in large part by increases in Web traffic from mobile devices.

According to Adobe Digital Index, a publisher of digital market research, U.S. consumers spent $2.68 billion online on Cyber Monday this year, a 17 percent increase from 2013. More than 20 percent of that spending came from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

FragranceNet, Apfel said, is reliant on the holidays for the bulk of its business since most of its products, which include designer scents such as Acqua Di Gio and Versace Bright Crystal, normally aren't considered gift items year-round.

"They are no different than anyone else in the fragrance industry," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at market researcher NPD Group in Port Washington. On average, 30 percent of the overall industry's business is done in the last three weeks of the year. "It's one of the top gift items year after year," Cohen said.

Especially when there's no one hot gift item out there, as is the case this year, the fragrance industry tends to do well, he said.

Founded in 1995, Fragrance-Net has grown considerably from its roots as a short-lived -- and profitless -- 1-800 telephone operation, said Apfel. In the corner of his office sits a single cardboard box containing the first four years of order forms. This season the company expects to fill more than 1 million orders.


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