Industry News 4/14/2008

NSSRA Initiative on Proforms, Direct Sales and Internet Sales Produces Results

NSSRA Initiative on Proforms, Direct Sales and Internet Sales Produces Results

The NSSRA initiative on Proforms, direct sales and Internet sales has produced results.  As we continue to deal with proforms and face new issues, we depend on you.  Why?  Because you are acting as the eyes and ears of the retail community.

Several shops contacted us about Rossignol’s Close-Outs.  (See below)  One Rossi dealer was in the process of closing a Pro sale (wholesale cos + shipping) when the Rossi Close-Out Store e-mail hit.  The Rossi deal – half of wholesale and free shipping. I have on file an e-mail from Rossignol (9/18/07) indicating all their pro deals would be worked through their retailers.  I guess that didn’t include close-outs.  Oh, well.

The discussions on Internet sales and on Shopatron as an alternative strategy for independents provoked some excellent comments.  Be sure to read.

You will be receiving soon (by snail mail) a request to participate in the new NSSRA Cost of Doing Business survey.  We have made participation extremely simple and very worthwhile in terms of your-shop-specific information.

Keep it up letters  and watch for the NSSRA e-mail newsletters where we can include additional news.  – Tom  Doyle, NSSRA President

Copy of e-mail sent by Rossignol on 03/19/08

The Rossignol Close-Out Store is UP!

We know you've been waiting for us to bring you close-out specials through NSP and PSIA, we've gotten the store back up and are ready to take your orders!

Head on over to HYPERLINK "http://www.psia.org/"http://www.psia.org or HYPERLINK "http://www.nsp.org/"http://www.nsp.org, log in as a member, and click on Rossignol's logo in the Promotional Offers section. You'll find a new link in the bottom right corner of the page to the Rossignol Close-Out Store, just fill in the form (or use your previous login information if you've purchased in the past) and you are good to go!

The store is fully stocked with skis, boots, bindings, poles, and accessories at some incredible prices. Check it out and get yourself some gear for next season! - The Team at Rossignol.

Chris Farni, CEO, Hart Ski Corporation on Internet sales:

Today, when customers go to our website, www.hartskis.com, we direct them to the Dealer Locator page.  If a customer does not have a store nearby, we will facilitate putting the customer in touch with the closest store to them.  Hart feels that specialty snow sports retailers are an essential link to our customers and will not solicit any online retailers.  That said, I think your organization’s membership will be interested in the following example of our commitment to our dealers, and the actions we took to protect our dealer's interests.

Recently, it came to our attention that a dealer was selling our current products through an eBay store at a price that was lower than our M.A.P. structure.  We scheduled a visit to the dealer and negotiated to buy back the entire inventory (at a not inconsiderable cost for 40+ skis), thus removing the items from eBay. We believe this action clearly demonstrates our intent to do all we can to support our retail partners from predatory internet pricing.

Steve Rogers, Sports Specialists Limited on proforms & Internet sales:

My two cents on the topic of e-commerce in the snowsports --- In my experience as a manager of a specialty owned buying group, the retailer has more say and control than they give themselves credit for on issues like e-commerce and pro-sales.  At the end of the day, you can choose to beat’m or join’m!  By beating them, you can take back control of the pro business by being “pro”-active v. reactive.  Proactive with pro-sales means you nurture the relationship with the pros in your market and control the sales activity (much like Cole’s has done in Park City).  Embrace the pro as a lifetime customer and a spokesperson for your store, not just a onetime sale to a needed pro.  With regard to e-commerce, again the business needs to be nurtured not ignored.  Online sales are here to stay and are growing more rapidly than any other facet of retail.  Get in the game!  Know the new rules first, but get in the game! In the end, you (the retailer) can choose to support the companies that support your efforts and back away from the suppliers that don’t. It may not be quite as easy as I make it sound, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

James Satloff, Liberty Skis on Shopatron:

In our opinion, manufacturers that sell direct to the public run a serious risk of competing with their dealers, imperiling dealers' role.  Already, we are seeing cost-conscious consumers taking a pair of skis for a demo at a local or resort shop, only to make their purchase online from a manufacturer or virtual big-box.

We have chosen to use Shopatron as a sensible alternative to the ease of direct, online sales that is demanded by consumers.   When an end-user clicks the 'buy' button on the Liberty Skis website, that order is fulfilled by one of our dealer shops - not by Liberty.  In this way we help dealers sell our product and also assist in acquiring new customers for them.  Certainly, the more retailers that we have signed up for Liberty Skis on Shopatron, the better.

Online-only retailers make up a portion of our sales, and we welcome and support their business.   In a handful of cases, online dealers have prematurely advertised lower prices.  (Our MAP date is February 1.)  Sometimes these have been caught by our own policing efforts; sometimes they have been pointed out to us by those dealers' competitors.  In all cases, when we have mentioned this to our online dealers, they have complied with our policies, understanding that we have policies in order to help all of our dealer network.

Innovations such as Shopatron, and good, sound, self-enforced policies that govern interaction between manufacturers and dealers seem to have the biggest payoffs, at least that’s the way we at Liberty feel about it.  Supporting the authorized dealers of a product is a manufacturer's obligation.

Paul Prutzmann, Pinnacle Sports, Reading PA on Shopatron:

We began using Shopatron last Fall and found the experience positive.  Setting up your store in Shopatron is pretty straightforward and, when questions or issues arose, their support people were helpful.

It is, however, a retailer driven system and, unless you take an active role, nothing will happen.  We were most successful in the early season when we had the resources to monitor the opportunities and bid on them early each day.  Success with Shopatron depends on consistently making the effort and having the backend picking and shipping process well structured.

Our only disappointment was the small number (2) of our suppliers on the system.  I don’t think this kind of customer/retailer experience makes sense for every product, but it provided us with a broader market and ability to participate in the on-line marketplace with a minimum of startup resource.


Greg Maguire, Little Mountain Ltd. on Internet sales & MAP:

The Internet may be a problem but, just like pro pricing, we have to learn to live with it.  The biggest problem so far this year has been some Internet outlets selling below MAP.  We have let companies know when people are selling in ways that hurt the specialty retailer.  We need to let companies know when Internet companies are selling at lower prices than MAP.

Also it is good to let others know when companies are being responsible to their brand and ALL forms of their distribution.  We have had a huge problem with one of Volkl’s on-line partners.  The on-line company had pricing way below MAP, even though the MAP pricing was to be in effect until the 16th of this month [February].  The result was many of our demo customers tried here and bought there.  Volkl so far has been ineffective in curtailing this pricing issue.  And I love the brand and have been with it for many years.

What would I like to see? 1] I would love to see MAP pricing represent a 45% margin.  2] I would like to see MAP set at 3/15 every year on ski.  The bulk of high end sales are still strong thru February for us and it would also help support our demo programs. 3] It would allow retailers to buy into hot models that are just taking off in December and January when you are just starting to get feedback from skiers like employees, demo customers, etc.

Rob Santa, Sturdevant’s Mountain Outfitters on Internet sales:

The unfortunate thing about internet sales of product is that it drags everyone and everything into the gutter. The ski industry’s best shops, with highly trained staff, premier and costly locations, beautiful product presentation, involved community leadership, and uniquely great service are pitted against the lowest common denominator – lowball pricing – as flaunted by some of the planet’s most unsavory merchants. It’s a recipe for the destruction of the retail network which built and continues to most effectively promote wintersport.