Establishing retail partnerships with entrepreneurial laser engravers engages shoppers, drives sales, touches hearts, and differentiates stores

·3 min read

AP Lazer® CEO Tong Li sees retail revolution tied to fulfilling people's emotional needs with product personalization

LANSING, Mich., Jan. 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- A chance encounter during a shopping trip to Crate & Barrel in Novi, Mich., led to an unexpected opportunity for entrepreneur Nicole Smith, owner of Cutting Edge Lazer Engraving. After striking up a conversation with a store manager, Smith was invited to set up her AP Lazer equipment instore during the 2021 holiday shopping season to provide complimentary engraving on customer purchases. The Crate & Barrel store pre-promoted these special events and compensated the home-based engraving company.

AP Lazer
AP Lazer

Engraving in-stock items sidesteps global logistics issues, drives sales, and makes the shopping experience memorable.

"Our customers and sales associates were really engaged," said Crate & Barrel Store Manager Jennifer Landers. "There was a real element of fun and satisfaction assisting our guests in selecting items and having their one-of-a-kind gifts engraved in our store."

It was a winning collaboration for Crate & Barrel, Cutting Edge Lazer Engraving, and store shoppers.

"People literally teared up watching the holiday ornaments, cutting boards, platters, wine glasses and other items they bought transformed into priceless keepsakes before their eyes," said Smith, who operates her business with her husband, Brandon. "They knew these thoughtful gifts would touch people's hearts and be treasured."

The Crate & Barrel store's promotions were so successful that the engraving events are continuing in 2022. Tong Li, founder, CEO, and inventor of AP Lazer's patented large format, open base laser machine systems that can engrave almost any item on store shelves, believes retailers that embrace what he calls "The Emotional Marketplace" will be at the forefront of an emerging retail revolution.

"Once our basic physical needs for food, shelter, and safety are met, as documented by renowned psychologist, Abraham Maslow, our emotional needs for connectedness, happiness, affection, and giving and receiving love take precedence," said Li. "Enormous opportunities exist for brick-and-mortar retailers that understand this. When meaningful sentiment is engraved onto everyday products, they become cherished mementos because they elicit warm feelings and emotions."

In her article The Rise of Personalized Products in Retail, Shopkeep's Yamarie Grullon writes, "Personalization offers an appealing, cost-effective way for consumers to form an emotional connection to a particular product or brand, while retailers enjoy increased loyalty and customer satisfaction rates." Consumer studies on retail trends by Deloitte and others over the past decade confirm consumers are happy to pay more for personalized products which increases revenue, while custom items spark conversation and free word-of-mouth promotion.

According to Li, the timing couldn't be better for creative merchants to form partnerships with local laser engravers to combat the enormous obstacles, like the pandemic's Great Resignation retail trend, while also forging a promising path forward.

"AP Lazer entrepreneurs throughout the U.S. can serve as house engravers for retailers struggling to find workers, without the overhead costs of hiring, training, and managing an employee," said Li. "In-stock items can be engraved, sidestepping global logistics issues, and revenue increased without adding inventory. Perhaps most importantly, genuine relationships and a competitive advantage can be created by offering shoppers what online retail giants cannot: a high touch, one-on-one, memorable customer experience."

Another AP Lazer entrepreneur, Bonnie Gilbert of Treblig Design in Port Huron, Mich. reached out to nearby retailers when COVID-19 first hit in 2020 and craft shows were canceled. She created partnerships with a local hair salon, alteration shop, menswear store and a café, engraving their products and selling her own, increasing revenue for all.

"The future of retail lies in adding meaning to merchandise and humanity to the shopping experience," said Li.

Link to photos here: (photo credit AP Lazer)

About AP Lazer®
Headquartered in Lansing, Michigan, AP Lazer is a privately owned designer and manufacturer of patented, open architecture CNC laser machines that engrave and cut a wide variety of materials and objects of all sizes. AP Lazer provides 24/7 tech support 365 days a year. Its customers are located throughout the U.S. and on six continents. For more information visit

Catherine Ticer
Cell: 248.514.1441


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