There was a tremendous amount of data presented, and there was no shortage of theories offered as to why the snowsports industry isn't growing. Most of that information wasn't new. What was new to me, though, was the realization that the change in consumer behavior over the last few years is more aligned with area operator business models than that of retailers and vendors. While retailers and vendors have been focused on technology and performance, areas have been focused on the experience, which is exactly what consumers are looking for.
That point was driven home again at this years Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City. At the opening breakfast the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) announced that it had engaged IDEO, an international design and branding consultant group, to determine how to grow the outdoor industry. IDEO's presentation identified some of the outdoor industry's practices that intimidated potential new consumers. One of those practices is the industry's (vendors and retailers) almost total focus on the core customer. The problem with that strategy is that the core is shrinking and new participants are not coming into the industry like they use to. We're all preaching to the choir, the choir is leaving through the back door and no one is coming into the church.
Assuming that all consumers seek adventure and risk is wrong. IDEO's research determined that this is exactly opposite of what many potential new consumers are seeking. It was their feeling that the images that vendors use - and even the design and layout of specialty outdoor retail stores - was intimidating to many potential new consumers.
Research indicates that there are many consumers who are unwilling to just show up outdoors or at a ski area and throw themselves into the sport. According to IDEO, one thing that potential consumers seek is a sense of community and a trusted advisor to guide them in the process of learning something new. They want to connect with people in the sport, and they're looking for someone to show them the ropes. Retailers can provide both of these.
One of the points to come out of the New York meeting is that retailers could become an integral part of learning to ski and ride. Retailers are where people live. We're easy to get to and with a little effort toward creating an "Introduction to Skiing/Riding" program geared to new participants, we could become the gateway to snowsports. Even something as simple as a weekly 30-minute class on where to go, how to dress, what a rental form looks like, and help in making a reservation at your local area would be a step towards getting more folks involved in snowsports.
While not abandoning the core, we need to dedicate some part of our marketing effort to introducing new participants to snowsports. This is the type of grass-roots marketing that grew our sport in the early days, and it's a way for us to stay relevant to a new group of consumers today.
The bottom line is that we can't wait for someone else to fix this. The challenge is for each stakeholder in the industry to look at his or her corner of the snowsport world and figure out what they can do to introduce someone new to snowsports.
It's time for all of us to stop asking why and instead ask, "What am I going to do about it."
And now it's time to hear from you. Tell us what you are doing in your shop to bring in new customers. Tell us about your successes and as well as the challenges you face, and we'll share your stories with your fellow NSSRA members.
-- Brad Nelson, Hi-Tempo
NSSRA Chairman of the Board
NSSRA Board Re-Elects Officers and One New Director
MOUNT PROSPECT, IL - The National Ski & Snowboard Retailers Association (NSSRA) Board of Directors is pleased to announce that its officers have been re-elected for a two-year term, which began August 1.
The officers are:
Chairman -- Brad Nelson, Hi Tempo Ski, Board & Sail, White Bear Lake, Minn.
Vice-Chair -- Lori Underwood, Peter Glenn, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Treasurer -- Greg Dekdebrun, Dekdebrun's Ski & Snowboard, Ellicottville, N.Y.
Immediate Past Chairman -- Paul Prutzman, Pinnacle Sports, Inc., Reading, Pa.
The Board also elected Tracy Gibbons, Sturtevant's, Bellevue, Wash., to a two-year term, replacing Larry Abelman, Okemo Mountain Resort, who retired.
"I am honored to be re-elected to lead NSSRA during a very challenging time for specialty snowsports retailers and the industry as a whole," Nelson said. "There is no question that we as an industry need to grow participation in snowsports. We also need to create a way of doing business that addresses the unique needs of specialty snowsports retailers.
"Those are the challenges that NSSRA is addressing. We need the support of all specialty snowsports retailers in order to affect change that benefits everyone in our great industry," Nelson added.
The following Directors continue to serve on the NSSRA Board:
Todd Brewer, Hoigaard's, Inc., St. Louis Park, Minn.; Tom Gately, Snowsports Merchandising Corp. (SMC), Springfield, Mass.; Larry Merkel, Round House Sports Center, Inc., Bozeman, Mont.; Alan Newman, Alpine BoardSports, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Wilbur Rice, Equipe Sport, Rawsonville, Vt.; Steve Rogers, Sports Specialists Ltd. (SSL), Victor, N.Y.; Dale Schaefer, Aurora Action Sports, East Aurora, N.Y.
Response to the 2012 Economic Census is Past Due
The 2012 Economic Census, the U.S. Government's official five-year measure of American business and the economy, is currently underway. For those businesses that have responded to the Economic Census, we thank you; for those businesses that were mailed a form but have not yet responded to this mandatory survey, we urge you to do so as soon as possible.
Report online at: econhelp.census.gov
Thank you again for taking part in the 2012 Economic Census, your response makes a difference!
4 Steps To Gain Control of Your Inbound Shipping
Reducing inbound shipping costs is one of the easiest -- yet most overlooked -- ways to reduce your overall transportation expenses. Like many small businesses, you may not currently have control over the shipments coming into your business. It is not uncommon for small businesses to let the vendor shipping the product to you arrange the carrier, select the mode of transportation, and manage the actual pickup and delivery times. In some cases, the convenience of this sort of arrangement may work well for your situation. However, that convenience comes with a cost: you may find that you are paying significantly more for inbound shipping than if you had arranged for it on your own.
Since you are the buyer of the goods, you can and should determine how those goods are shipped to you. When you control and route your own inbound shipments, you have an excellent opportunity to lower your costs.
Step 1: Find a 3PL Partner. Most 3PL freight partners are able to aggregate the freight volume of many small-to-medium sized businesses and help negotiate better discount rates and terms. They can also provide additional value-added services, sometimes at no additional cost, that are designed to lower your overall logistics expenses.
Step 2: Analyze Your Inbound. When reviewing your product invoices, here are some terms you should keep in mind:
- Free Freight - There really is no such thing. Look closely, as your vendor has probably buried their shipping costs into the purchase price of your merchandise.
- Prepaid and Add - This means your vendor is paying the freight for your shipment. It also means they are controlling the routing and adding this expense -- often with additional "handling fees" -- to your product invoice.
One of the main objectives in controlling your inbound is working with your vendors to change the shipping terms from "prepaid and add" to "inbound collect." When you successfully change the terms to collect, you have essentially taken control of your inbound shipment since you are now paying the freight charges on the order.
It also reduces the number of carriers from different suppliers arriving at your receiving dock every day. When you control the routings, you control how and when carriers deliver to your door, making it easier to maximize your staff's efforts.
Step 3: Negotiate Better Rates. When you work with an established 3PL freight partner, you generally will be able to secure your business the best possible inbound shipping rates. Be sure you engage with a 3PL that only works with the most reputable carriers in the industry.
Step 4: Create Inbound Routing Instructions. With your 3PL partner relationship, your analysis of product invoices completed, and your competitive inbound shipping rates in hand - you're now ready for the final step of creating inbound routing instructions and sending them to all of your key vendors. This is where your 3PL partner will either impress or disappoint. A 3PL with inbound shipping experience, will be able to help you create your inbound routing program with the following services:
- Identify and manage lists of key vendors
- Create clear inbound routing instructions for each vendor
- Draft and send routing instruction letters to each of your key vendors on your behalf
- Monitor and report on vendor compliance
- Consolidate your billing and report to you the savings you are receiving through the program
For help getting started, call PartnerShip at 800-599-2902 or email sales@PartnerShip.com. You can also let PartnerShip provide you with a free, no-obligation inbound shipping analysis. PartnerShip is the official shipping service provider to NSSRA.